Asthma rates are higher in South Australia (SA) than the national average – 13% compared with 11%. They are even higher in regional SA, and in Peterborough and surrounds, rates are over 20%.  Admissions to hospitals due to asthma in the Mid North are also 45% higher than the SA average and are the highest figures in the country. 

Project Part 1 – October 2019 – September 2020 

Community Responses to Asthma in the Mid North 

In 2019, Country SA PHN funded Asthma Australia for two years to explore the lived experience of people with asthma in the Mid North towns of Peterborough, Jamestown and Ororroo. The project was called Community Responses to Asthma in the Mid North. The Australian Centre for Social Innovation, worked with Asthma Australia to train local people as peer researchers, who were employed to ask other community members how we could help support them to ‘breathe better’. Later these peer researchers became paid Local Project Support Officers.    

After many conversations with people living with asthma, and key stakeholders like general practitioners and pharmacists, potential solutions were identified that could be implemented in the community. Two were finally chosen, which needed to be explored and further defined. 

Asthma Advocacy Guides

 

The Community Connector

Another important strategy made possible by CSAPHN funding was the Coalition of Partners (COP). This partnership has brought together key stakeholders in the region, like the three local hospitals, general practices and pharmacies, and funders CSA PHN, Yorke and Northern Local Health Network and Country and Outback Health. The aim of the COP is to find and address gaps in services, duplication, or problems that are barriers for people with respiratory issues accessing the care they need. This proved highly effective.

Project Part 2 – October 2020 – June 2021 

Implementing Community Responses to Asthma in the Mid North 

Based on the initial work CSA PHN refunded the project in October 2020. Now called Implementing Community Responses to Asthma in the Mid North (ICRA), LPS Officers again went to the community to ask how the chosen solutions could be implemented. Many community discussions led to the two ideas being combined into the Asthma Community Connector (ACC) role.  

This would be a person with asthma who would be trained as a local Asthma Educator to provide information and support for people with breathing issues. Local resident, Anita Stewart, was appointed in April 2021 as the ACC.   

Anita is well-known in the community, as the manager of the post-office, nurse and ambulance officer, she was everyone’s first choice as the ACC. However, it was not for her clinical skills that she was chosen but because she was ‘Someone Like Me’ – a person with asthma who in her own words – ‘had been doing it wrong for 40 years’, so could relate to other peoples’ experiences.  

Anita has embraced the role and gives group and individual education sessions, meets people in her office or at home or in a coffee shop and given several presentations, including to the local school.  

She is also trained in spirometry and can assist the local respiratory nurse.  

Project Phase 3 – January 2022 

Someone Like Me  

In June 2021, the CSAPHN funding ended. However, a Chronic Conditions Integrated Partnership grant from Wellbeing SA enabled the program to continue – now called Someone Like Me.  

The ACC’s role now includes support for asthma patients as they leave hospital emergency departments (EDs), connecting them to the GP, the respiratory health nurse, and local pharmacists; helping people build confidence and knowledge in managing their condition. 

The COP also continued, unfunded and aims to implement the changes to processes, procedures and services that have been developed in the Mid North in other areas of country SA.  

If you are interested in the project or would like more information, please contact Michelle Davis, Projects and Partnerships Officer, Asthma Australia, on mdavis@asthma.org.au or 0481 172 911 

If you live in Mid North SA please join us to start the conversation about asthma https://www.facebook.com/groups/asthmamidnorth 

Or you can contact our Asthma Community Connector, Anita via email. 

This partnership project brings together key stakeholders in the region, like Yorke and Northern Local Health Network and the three local hospitals, general practice and pharmacies to ensure people with respiratory issues can access the care they need. 

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