- New service will be available from Monday 12 July to any person aged 50+ years with a residential address local to the Westside Community Centre
A new Charles Sturt University student-led podiatry clinic will be opened at Westside Community Centre in West Albury, NSW, on Monday 12 July – COVID restrictions permitting.
The clinic which is a pilot project is the result of collaboration between the podiatry team in the Charles Sturt School of Allied Health, Exercise and Sports Sciences, staff at Westside Community Centre, and Three Rivers University Department of Rural Health (UDRH).
Westside Community Centre in West Albury provides case management and support services to the local community, to encourage connection and social inclusion.
Discipline Lead in Podiatry in the School of Community Health Associate Professor Caroline Robinson said the centre has an important role in facilitating outreach services to enable community members’ access to a range of services, including healthcare providers.
“The local community includes a strong First Nations population which is twice the national average and 25 per cent of community members are aged over 65 years,” Professor Robinson said.
“Barriers such as isolation, transportation, COVID-19, lack of supports and increasing living costs are impacting community and therefore have a detrimental impact on peoples wellbeing and health.
“This student-led podiatry clinic will provide an essential service to members of the Westside community, commencing Monday 12 July and continuing on a weekly basis for a trial period of 12 months.
“This service will be available to eligible people aged 50 years or more, with a residential address local to the Westside Community Centre.”
The final-year students in the four-year Bachelor of Podiatric Medicine will practice under the direct supervision of a registered podiatrist and on a one-to-one basis, undertaking assessment, treatment, and management planning for clients.
Specific outcomes being sought through implementation of this project are:
- Provision of a culturally relevant podiatry service to meet the needs of the community living locally to the Westside Community Centre
- Addressing an unmet need for podiatry intervention and preventative foot healthcare
- Enabling an enhanced community awareness of podiatry and support for improved foot health for community members
- Providing an engaging and rich workplace learning experience for podiatry students
Professor Robinson explained that podiatrists are specialists in foot and lower limb health, and they have a key role in primary healthcare in maintaining the mobility, physical activity, and independence of people in the community.
“Physical inactivity is a major risk factor for chronic conditions and premature death,” she said.
She noted that a focus on prevention through adequate provision of podiatry services ‘can significantly reduce the volume and severity of chronic conditions and provide long-term cost savings and better health outcomes’ (Australian Health Ministers’ Advisory Council, 2017).
“Importantly, this workplace learning experience will provide podiatry students with the opportunity to work with First Nations clients, to deepen their understanding of building relationships to foster culturally-safe practice,” Professor Robinson said.
“Building capacity in allied health to create a culturally-safe health workforce, is a key tenet of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Strategy – Statement of Intent (AHPRA, 2020).”
This pilot project has been made possible through the support of Three Rivers University Department of Rural Health (UDRH), which is funded by the Australian Government’s Rural Health Multidisciplinary Training Program. The program aims to improve recruitment and retention of nursing, midwifery, allied health and dentistry professionals in rural and remote Australia.