Wednesday, 12 December 2012

The Magic Number

Self discovery is a wonderful thing and I believe we are evolving as individuals every day. But often those with a chronic illness reach a particularly bad patch during their lives, one which shatters their world.

From my conversations with various other people and professionals it seems the magic number for those with complex or chronic issues is that of 20-something. You reach 20-something and your health does a belly flop and you wonder where the good days went. I myself as a 20-something year old hit my bad patch roughly two years ago and it took me almost 2 years to stabilise and come to terms with my new 'normal'. The biggest realisation was how stressful my life actually was and how it was impacting on my already problematic health.

We live in a world which is so fast paced and over scheduled that often we forget to take the time out for ourselves (which I am very guilty of) which is so vital when you have a complex or chronic health issue.  Having the ability to stop and say 'leave me alone I need to do something for me' is what has brought me to my new 'normal'. For me it was a trip to Thailand before I realised that my job wasn't helping my health amongst other things and after much anguish I made some terrifying (initially) sacrifices which in turn helped me stabilise, reduce my medication intake, become happier and less sore.

I am writing this now as with the lead up to Christmas everyone is stressed and sometimes we don't even realise what the stressors are to remind us (including myself) all to do something each day for yourself, go for a walk, take up fencing, play with your pet, lie in the grass and look up at the clouds. If it all gets too much remember there are services you can access any time of the day or night to help you through the silly season, your health transitions and life. GP's are a fantastic first point of contact but if your not comfortable talking to yours or you don't have a 'good' GP then there are services such as below available for you.

At the end of the day we are all on this crazy roller coaster together!

This Blog was contributed by:
Michelle Taylor
AWCH Youth Representative

DISCLAIMER: The views expressed here are solely those of the author in her private capacity. Information provided by blog contributors are not intended to replace qualified medical or other professional advise and for diagnosis, treatment and medication you should consult a health practitioner.

Tuesday, 19 June 2012

Legislation A Step Forward But Still Leaves NSW Kids in the Smoke

A man emailed me last week, appalled to see a young baby seated near smokers (including its parent) in a pub beer garden.

He was even more appalled when I told him this was still legal under current NSW smokefree laws – and with no end in sight.

New smokefree legislation now before the NSW parliament makes some welcome steps forward – but still leaves many children facing significant secondhand smoke exposure in crowded public places including so-called “outdoor” smoking areas in pubs and clubs – and even in alfresco dining areas until at least 2015.

The health evidence on harm to children from tobacco smoke exposure is compelling. The government’s NSW Tobacco Strategy 2012-17 sets out actions the government will take to reduce tobacco harm - especially to children, who are especially vulnerable.

Under legislation introduced by the government, several public outdoor areas will be made smoke-free, including children’s playgrounds, public sports grounds and swimming pools, public transport stops and entrances to public buildings. These are welcome.

The government has committed to end smoking in public dining areas – both licensed and unlicensed – but not until 2015, when a Memorandum of Understanding with Clubs NSW expires. Under this memorandum, the government agreed not to change smoking rules in licensed venues during its first term. So while outdoor dining is now smoke free in most states, in NSW we wait on.

The smoke free legislation has passed the Lower House and now goes to the Upper House – where amendments moved by the Greens would end or restrict smoking in these child-accessible spaces. These amendments might pass the Upper House but would then go back to the Lower House for passage of the amended bill.

The Protecting Children from Tobacco coalition of 42 child welfare, health, equity, church and other bodies at ASHis calling for passage of amendments to fully protect children from secondhand smoke.
We urge everyone concerned to communicate their views to local MPs, MLCs, the Health Minister and all NSW parliamentary parties.

MP contacts are at NSW Parliament Website

ASH Australia
Stafford Sanders
Coordinator, Protecting Children from Tobacco

Wednesday, 30 May 2012

Social Media for Children in Hospital

Should children and young people have access to the internet and social media while they are in hospital?

Social support during hospitalisation has always been a critical factor for children and young people. The rights of children and young people in healthcare have been enshrined in polices and standards developed by AWCH and other like minded organisations over many years.

Reducing feelings of isolation from friends and family members, especially for older children and teens is an important consideration. For older children, contact with school friends and access to facilities they may have at home (e.g. the internet) can also help normalise the hospital experience. This is important to reduce the possible negative effects associated with childhood hospitalisation.

The new technologies can provide young patients with increased access to family, peers and entertainment and have been shown to enhance communication and social connection. With internet access, children can also keep up with their school work.

Recent surveys about technology and social media have found that:
It is clear that the internet is a huge part of young lives. Arguably young people who do not have such access may be disadvantaged. Strategies that enable equitable access to the internet for children and young people during hospitalisation have the potential to reduce isolation and interruption to education.

Should access to these important technologies, which enable social connectedness, as well as educational opportunities, be available to all children and young people while they are in hospital?

What do you think?

Thursday, 24 May 2012

Vale Barbara Holborow

Barbara Holborow, Former New South Wales children's magistrate, has died aged 81.

Barbara has been a champion for children’s rights for many years and recently had been awarded NSW Senior Australian of the Year 2012. This is an extract from the Australian of the Year website:

Barbara’s philosophy is that ‘every child is everybody’s responsibility.’ As a magistrate, she was instrumental in setting up free legal aid for children in NSW, a care court to deal with cases of neglect and a special jail for first-time offenders aged 18 to 25. She allowed television cameras into her court, believing that an open and transparent process would help reform the system.
Barbara Holborow, Irene Hancock, Sev Ozdowski
at AWCH 2002 Conference

Since her retirement from the bench in 1994 she has continued to defend the rights of children. Over the years, many foster children have come under her care and while working at a refuge she met a young Aboriginal boy named Jacob who she later adopted.

Barbara has written three books on her experiences with children and, at the age of 81, continues her fearless crusading, lobbying government and garnering media attention.

Barbara was an inspirational keynote speaker at AWCH 2002 conference Healthy Justice for Children.


Children's champion Barbara Holborow dies
Magistrate Barbara Holborow dies

Wednesday, 16 May 2012

Wonderful AWCH Volunteers

Meet Peggy, Cathy, Maureen and Lesley – some of our wonderful AWCH volunteers.

AWCH has been blessed with the most gracious, hard working and happy bunch of office volunteers you could ever wish to meet.

Thank you Peggy, Maureen, Lesley and Cathy for your dedication and assistance to AWCH
It has been a very busy year with AWCH moving to another building on the Gladesville Hospital site. With laughter and generosity of spirit that is a delight to behold, some serious archiving took place in preparation for the move. Sifting their way through the reams and reams of duplicated paperwork, they reduced the amount of paper records that we have collected over the nearly 40 years of AWCH existence – a monumental task undertaken by these marvellous, patient and thorough women. They also embarked on the hard work involved in the move and settling in - the place now feels like home!

Our volunteers are an inspiration to all of us with their enthusiasm and can do spirit.

Here’s to you fabulous volunteers! We can’t thank you enough for your happy and unflappable approach to any and all tasks.

Celebrate with us during National Volunteer Week 2012

National Volunteer Week 2012

During this 2012 National Volunteer Week AWCH Thanks Our Fabulous Hospital Ward Grandparent Scheme Volunteers.

The AWCH Hospital Ward Grandparent Scheme began in 1987 at the Sydney Children’sHospital Network – Westmead.

The idea is based on the belief that the trauma of hospitalisation in a child may be lessened considerably by the presence of an adult with whom the child has a loving relationship. Because the parent sometimes cannot accompany a hospitalised child for varying reasons, such as distance, family and job obligations or parental illness, AWCH introduced the visiting ward grandparent scheme.

The grandparent volunteer fills a diverse role:
  • Supports the child and often the family in a time of crisis
  • Provides a means of communication between the child and the unfamiliar world of the hospital
  • Entertains an often bored and frustrated child
  • Provides stimulation at essential stages of development in a child who might otherwise become developmentally delayed due to institutionalisation
  • Relieves the workload of a frequently over extended ward staff
  • Gives the child individual attention and love that every child needs, especially when lying alone in a hospital bed
All in all our visiting ward grandparents do these and a lot more. Their ability to give themselves and be of immeasurable value to the sick child has surpassed our wildest expectations.

During this 2012 National Volunteer Week with the theme ‘Every One Counts’ AWCH pays tribute to the hundreds of ward grandparent volunteers who over the years have supported children and their families in hospitals across Australia.

Interested in volunteering?

Check out the AWCH Ward Grandparent Scheme video