NCPHN is excited to share the news that the small town of Ulong near Coffs Harbour will have a refurbished clinical space opening in 2019. Free clinics will restart monthly in 2019, staffed by nursing students from TAFE NSW.
Since July 2018, Diploma of Nursing students from Coffs Harbour TAFE, under the guidance of Lisa Taffe, Head Teacher, Aged Care, Health & Nursing, have been working in a makeshift clinical space in the community hall. It’s hoped the refurbished space will attract a GP to visit regularly. The consulting room is now complete in the renovated community hall through an NCPHN grant of $10,000 and local donations.
Ulong lies nearly an hour inland from Coffs Harbour, along winding mountain roads. NCPHN prioritised Ulong as a town to support through its Community Voices program.
The Diploma of Nursing students have been providing the town’s population of 131 with a free, professional nursing service offering many benefits including chronic disease management and prevention and health education.
NCPHN’s Community Engagement Coordinator Anne-Maree Parry said Ulong was recognised as an activated community ready for change.
“Sadly, they’d experienced a number of suicides, heart attacks and car accidents, and other conditions needing hospitalisation and follow up care. We were keen to see how we could improve health outcomes in this vulnerable, isolated community.”
Anne-Maree said that through Community Voices and Lisa and Carol’s commitment and efforts, community members are now receiving care that they wouldn’t otherwise have received.
Like other small and isolated communities in the program, Ulong has also received first aid training so that residents feel equipped to respond in the event of an injury or accident. By working with NSW Ambulance, community members have been trained as first responders.
Ulong’s clinical space is a great example of how with trust and community champions, positive change to improve health can happen in the smallest of places.
Ulong’s community champion is the energetic and dedicated Carol Cleary from Ulong General Store. Carol said that she was motivated to improve health care for Ulong as she had been working part-time as a “counsellor” and part-time flipping burgers.
“I’d be making burgers and advising customers to get some mental health support or visit a GP,” Carol said. “Now I’ll be working to get outreach services out here such as a dietitian, mental health, women’s health and immunisation.”