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MSWA Bulletin Magazine Spring 2021

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What is assistive technology and how can it help you? | Good health monitoring practices | Pain and pain management series: Part 2 | Farewell Marcus Stafford

NURSING COVID-19

NURSING COVID-19 VACCINATION UPDATE As we all know, COVID-19 has significantly impacted all of us in one way or another. Thankfully WA has been less impacted than other states in Australia and indeed so many countries around the world. Closed borders and lockdowns have been particularly effective for WA and Australia more broadly but have come at significant cost to the economy and our ability to travel. The global push to get vaccinated is ongoing and has indeed ramped up significantly in the past 3 – 6 months in Australia. Overwhelmingly there is evidence COVID vaccinations are safe, and indeed recommended, for most people with chronic health conditions; there are some medical exemptions that apply for those taking some specific medications. As always there is a lot of scary misinformation and untruths, so please seek out credible evidencebased information and advice. Two injections are required and, depending on the type of vaccine, the spacing varies from 4 – 12 weeks apart. / Vaccinations are available through GPs, pharmacies, and state-run centres/hubs throughout the metropolitan and regional areas / All Western Australians aged 12 years and over are eligible for COVID-19 vaccination. / All COVID-19 vaccines are free. / The Australian Technical Advisory Group for Immunisations has recently released new advice regarding COVID-19 vaccination booster shots for those deemed ‘severely immunocompromised’ and on specific medications. Ask your medical team if a third dose is recommended for you. Increasingly, vaccination is becoming mandatory in certain settings, including residential aged care, the health system, and various private businesses like Qantas. Proof of vaccination will also become necessary for travel and some local events in an effort to protect us all from COVID-19. Always seek advice from your GP and / or neurologist, who know you well. Go to the Health Department websites in WA and the Federal site, as these are updated almost daily and provide vaccination advice and information and links for how to book your vaccination. healthywa.wa.gov.au health.gov.au SUE SHAPLAND RN, BN, MSCN “There is so much happening around us at present that we can forget to take care of ourselves. I had forgotten to do my own health checks and had cast aside those reminder letters from my GP thinking I would do them soon. I work in general practice and happened to speak to a general practitioner a few weeks ago who said that there were a lot of patients coming to see her who had put off their usual checks, and unfortunately the results coming back were not great. If only they had had them done when they were due, she said. This really hit me! Yes, life is super busy and we CAN overlook our health and wellbeing. I went home and booked those belated tests in. All is well – thank goodness – but it is a keen reminder to keep looking after our health even in these strange times of living within a pandemic. Please keep up to date with those health checks so that you can continue to be a force in the world!” TRACEY HOCKEY, MSWA CLIENT & EDITORIAL CONTRIBUTOR 14

NURSING ARE YOU PRACTICING GOOD HEALTH MONITORING? Whether you have a chronic illness or not, there are recommendations to regularly monitor your general health and wellbeing. The Victorian Government’s Better Health initiative (betterhealth. vic.gov.au/healthyliving/healthchecks) is just one great resource. Regular health checks can prevent many diseases and catch others before it's too late to change their course. Some health checks and screening tests can help prevent serious illness such as cancer. Regular self-checks are recommended (eg skin checks, breast self-examination for women and testicular checks for men) along with checks of your eyesight, teeth, gums, and those ordered or performed by your GP (eg blood tests and screening). Speak to your GP, who will provide tailored advice about what tests you may need and how often. Recommended screening: / Regular monitoring of your blood pressure, weight, and cholesterol; frequency depends on your age and risk of heart disease or stroke. / Diabetes screening; depending on your risk of Diabetes Type 2. The blood tests may require fasting. / Bowel cancer screening; The National Bowel Cancer Screening Program provides a home sample kit and recommends people aged 50 to 74 years have a test once every two years. Up to 90% of bowel cancers can be successfully treated if detected early. / Bone density test (DEXA) to determine the health of your bones; Osteoporosis is a disease that causes bones to become brittle. Risk factors include a thin build, early menopause, aged over 70 years, and long-term use of cortisone medication. Some gender-specific screenings you might like to think about include: For women: / Cervical screening test: this is important and can pick up signs of irregularities that could lead to cervical cancer if not treated. Cervical cancer is one of the most preventable cancers. Frequency of tests depend on your age and any family history. / Mammogram: this is recommended every two years. If you have a family history it will be more frequent. For men: / Prostate cancer screening: population-based screening is not recommended, so discuss this with your GP. If you’re aged 50-70, a blood test (PSA) may be deemed appropriate. / ECG: a non-invasive and painless medical test that detects cardiac (heart) abnormalities by measuring the electrical activity generated by the heart as it contracts. For all: / Sexual health: testing for sexually transmissible infections and erectile dysfunction or other sexual problems can be discussed with your GP. In addition, monitoring your mental health and seeking advice and support is also recommended. We don’t think twice about getting our vehicles regularly serviced and checked when things aren’t right; self-care is so important and you’re worth it! SUE SHAPLAND BN 15