New committee aims to help people stay healthier for longer

Dhelkaya Health is setting up a new committee that will work behind the scenes to help people maintain their health and wellbeing for longer. The new Health and Wellbeing Committee is inviting community members with an understanding of some of the issues involved in staying healthy to join them.

Kerryn James, Executive Director Community Services and Wellbeing said: “We’re looking for local people who can bring their expertise or experience to the committee’s work. Put simply, this is about ensuring that we are developing and delivering services that support good health and wellbeing for all who live in our diverse community.”

Dhelkaya Health offers a range of Community-based services that provide information, advice or practical help to the local community, including rehabilitation programs, social support, counselling, family and children’s services, chronic disease management, community nursing and housing support.

The new Health and Wellbeing Committee will be responsible for overseeing the strategic direction of these important community services, and identifying opportunities to develop new programs and partnerships through monitoring the health and social needs of our local population.

The Mount Alexander Shire has a median age of 52 compared to 37 for wider Victoria. With an older and ageing population, the likelihood of developing one or more chronic conditions increases. The shire also experiences higher rates of mental health conditions, alcohol consumption and related harm, diabetes, disability, cancer and a range of other long-term health conditions such as arthritis.

But Ms James is keen to stress that it’s not just ageing that contributes to the likelihood of developing a chronic disease or poor health.  Social factors such as unstable housing/homelessness, unemployment, family violence or low income can also play a role, along with lifestyle choices around diet, smoking and exercise.  Climate change is another factor that impacts our ability to stay healthy, particularly for people who are vulnerable.

Ms James says: “When we experience climate change impacts like extended periods of extreme heat or an increase in dust and pollen in the air, that’s when we see more hospitalisations and deaths. People with chronic conditions including mental health, frail older people and people who may lack suitable housing or access to other resources really feel the impact of these events. Our community-based services have a real opportunity to help people facing these impacts through providing access to supports and programs to address a broad range of factors that may be affecting their health and wellbeing.

If you’d like to learn more about the committee or join its work, visit www.castlemainehealth.org.au

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