Australia's Health & Wellness Retreats
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In April 2010, Polio Australia conducted Australia’s first four-day “Polio Health and Wellness Retreat” in New South Wales. The purpose of the Health and Wellness Retreat was to provide a holistic approach to managing the late effects of polio (LEOP) and finding life balance. Each day focussed on a different aspect of health and wellness: Body, Mind and Spirit.

This Retreat model was adapted from Polio Health International’s Post-Polio Wellness Retreat held in Warm Springs, USA, in 2009. It is now being used as a chronic condition self management technique in Polio Australia activities, with a second Retreat run in Victoria in April 2011, and a third scheduled for Queensland in 2012. As there were a number of partners/carers participating, there were also scheduled and informal opportunities for them to meet and discuss their own specific concerns.

Click the image at left to view the video of this presentation (15 mins 21 secs) on The Informed Scientist website. You can also download a PDF copy of the presentation slides.

According to the sample evaluation comment below, this Retreat has “changed people’s lives”:

“Thanks for all you put into the retreat. For me it was a life-changing experience! It seemed to offer everything we needed: great plenary sessions, excellent small group discussions and one-to-one opportunities with professionals, and the chance to share all these experiences with one’s partner. Beyond that, there was the informal chance to make connections and share experiences with other polio survivors. Congratulations to everyone involved. I’ve already made three important follow-up appointments….”

In order to verify changes in the participant’s self-management practices as a result of attending the Retreats, people completed a follow-up questionnaire reporting on their progress after a 6 month period.

It is intended that funding be sought so that Polio Health and Wellness Retreats can be facilitated across Australia as a key program component towards achieving Polio Australia’s vision of ensuring that all polio survivors have access to adequate support and information together with comprehensive, consistent health care from a range of well-informed and educated professionals.

Mary-ann Liethof
Graduate Diploma of Education / Diploma of Community Services
National Program Manager, Polio Australia
Victoria, Australia