Discussions shed light on accessing health services and sexual health information
The Women with SCI Network went online to lean about Jean Hailes for Women's Health, and discuss physical access issues and sexual health information.
The Network adapted easily for their first videoconferencing meeting. Due to the current challenging and unique global situation, all Regional and Community Networks are held online instead of meeting face-to-face.
The Network first shared how they were managing in the current situation which includes:
using Telehealth to attend medical appointments online
staying active through indoor exercises and online wheelchair yoga
socialising online with friends and family more often
Working with their carers team to ensure everyone can still be productive, as the carers roles’ have now changed.
The Network then welcomed Dr Elizabeth Farrell, gynaecologist and Medical Director of Jean Hailes for Women's Health. Jean Hailes is a "not-for-profit organisation dedicated to improving women's health through every life stage.”
The meeting was an opportunity for Dr Elizabeth and the Network to discuss ways to improve physical access to Jean Hailes' clinics. The Network used their personal experiences with health services to suggest there are adequate space within the reception area for women who use powerchairs, a portable hoist as an option for transfers from wheelchair to examination bed, and ensuring that the doctors discuss routine screening (such as pap smears) with women with disability. Currently, Jean Hailes have ramp or ground level access to the clinics, have height adjustable examination beds, and accessible toilets.
There was also discussion on sexual health, a topic that is not widely spoken about between patients and health professionals. Members of the Network shared how it was often difficult to find practical information on sexual health post-injury, and noted how most surveys ask about the individual's quality of life but not sexual health or intimacy. The Network agreed that it was important to learn first about one's body through touch and experimentation before partnered intimacy, and that there are now more specialist health services that can provide practical assistance, such as at Austin Health.
It was an engaging and informative meeting for the Network and Dr Elizabeth, with everyone learning something new.
Jean Hailes is one of the many women's health clinics in Victoria, with clinics based in Clayton and East Melbourne. They can accept concession cards and bulk billing for certain appointments. Along with specialist services (e.g. sexual health, counselling, vulval dysfunction and uro-gynecology), Jean Hailes is also involved in research, education, and developing and translating fact sheets. Contact Jean Hailes to see if the service is right for you.
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