Polio Australia strives to develop programs and services to assist health professionals to achieve best practice in the management and care of their post-polio patients, including:
- the establishment of a website specific to health professionals to be used as a resource for widening the range of health professionals accessing information on diagnosing and managing the LEoP/PPS for their patients;
- the production and distribution of videos for health professionals via the website as part of their professional development and/or continuing medical education;
- the publishing of articles in discipline-specific Professional Journals, widening the range of health professionals accessing information on diagnosing and managing the LEoP/PPS for their patients;
- formulating and providing blueprints for model polio clinics to be established in each state and territory, incorporating public and private sectors, rural satellites, and remote consultation for implementation across Australia; and
- Identifying and stimulating research projects in to the management of LEoP/PPS.
Additional programs comprise:
The Australian Polio Register was established by Polio Australia in October 2010 to gather information on the numbers of polio survivors living in Australia today, whether or not they contracted polio in this country. Despite limited resources to promote the Polio Register widely in the community, Polio Australia has achieved remarkable results to date.
Through volunteer efforts, Polio Australia launched its flagship Polio Australia website in 2010, following several unsuccessful attempts to secure government or philanthropic funding. The website has been promoted through Polio Australia’s publications and has a high rating with Post-Polio Health International. The website attracts an average of 235 views per day.
Polio Australia has now established four websites, with three dedicated to promote specific activities.
Since October 2010, Polio Australia has published its e-Bulletin Reflections eight times a year.
In February, May, August and November, “Reflections” is incorporated into our subsequent quarterly e-Magazine Polio Oz News which was introduced in June 2011.
Both these publications are a rich source of information for readers, which is obtained from a wide range of sources including material from health professionals, stories, reports on Polio Australia’s activities, government initiatives, current affairs, and more.
Both “Reflections” and “Polio Oz News” are compiled, edited, published and distributed electronically by the National Program Manager.
Email distribution of these newsletters is currently at 1590 (and growing), including 200 international organisations and individuals. All editions are also uploaded to the website for general viewing.
Polio Australia currently organises speaking engagements at a variety of service clubs, including Rotary, as a source of promotion and potential funding revenue. Polio Australia also seeks opportunities to speak to groups within the community who might be experiencing the Late Effects of Polio (LEoP) / Post-Polio Syndrome (PPS).
Polio Australia holds an annual Late Effects of Polio Self-Management Residential Program (also known as “Polio Health and Wellness Retreats”) for up to 70 polio survivors and their families/carers which have addressed self-management strategies for the post-polio body, the healthy mind and the spirit. These Retreats are held in a different state each year to ensure polio survivors around Australia have access to this vital information.
Since 2010, six Retreats have been run in New South Wales (2010), Victoria (2011), Queensland (2012), South Australia (2013), New South Wales (2014), and Victoria (2015). For each of the 4 days of the Retreats, several local health and other practitioners were sourced and invited to facilitate presentations. Most required additional education on the LEoP/PPS, but were all well acquainted with the issues by the completion of their sessions, thanks to exposure to so many polio survivors in one place. This ‘crash course’ in the LEoP/PPS now provides them with more effective strategies to assist other patients/clients.
Each October, Polio Australia coordinates awareness-raising through its annual Polio Awareness Month campaign. Known polio survivors are contacted and their stories are provided to the print media and radio stations to broadcast the message that “We’re Still Here!” and that there is information and support from Polio Australia and Networks for people who are experiencing the LEoP/PPS and may not be aware of the condition.
Since 2012, the campaigns have culminated in a mass visit to Parliament House in Canberra with up to 60 polio survivors and their family members and friends from across Australia meeting with their local MPs to discuss their needs.
In addition, all state-based Polio Networks are encouraged and supported to generate local media interest during October, with the aim of potentially reaching new members. Polio Awareness Month activities are also promoted via Polio Australia’s publications and website.
To help achieve its goals, Polio Australia has established a Clinical Advisory Group comprising open-minded health care professionals who are experts in their field and have knowledge about polio and its late effects. The aim of the group is to advise on quality information and best practice service provision across Australia, incorporating appropriate diagnosis and management of the LEoP/PPS.
In October 2012, Polio Australia launched a new online resource at Parliament House, Canberra, titled The Late Effects of Polio: Introduction to Clinical Practice.
With no funding forthcoming from government or philanthropic sources, this module was developed and produced thanks to GlaxoSmithKline’s corporate volunteer program. The reference sources, content and structure of the resource module was guided by Polio Australia and written by GSK’s Vaccine Department’s Medical Team.
Following a project-specific personal donation, Polio Australia was able to launch our second resource at Parliament House, Canberra, in October 2014. The Late Effects of Polio: Managing Muscles and Mobility is a collaborative effort by Polio Australia’s Clinical Advisory Group experts and integrates personal accounts from ‘Lived Experience Experts’ – the survivors of polio themselves. Information found within includes the very latest in best-practice methods of treatment and care of clients as they age with LEoP.