Increased numbers of South West residents have been putting their feet right in it thanks to the growing popularity of a locally-delivered podiatry assistant service.
The service is delivered from Roma, Charleville and St George hospitals and at outreach clinics in smaller centres by advanced allied health assistants under the direction of the South West Hospital and Health Service’s three specialist podiatrists.
South West HHS Senior Podiatrist Brian Ralph says the podiatry assistant service provided clients with nail care, education on proper foot care, padding and advice on appropriate footwear.
“The advanced allied health assistants manage all the low-risk foot care services, those that don’t involve major complications, thereby allowing the podiatrists to focus on higher risk cases and more complicated tasks.’’
And technology means nothing gets missed with assistants delivering the service on outreach to smaller centres, able to immediately and directly hook into a podiatrist using a telehealth link through an iPad they take with them.
“Mr Ralph through the iPad, the podiatrist can see what the assistant is seeing and videos and photos can be taken for further clinical review.
“All clients are also reviewed annually by the podiatrist, or earlier if any issues are identified by the podiatry assistants.’’
He says the system is proving successful in both Roma and Charleville catchments. The Roma podiatry assistant service saw an average of between 15–20 patients a week between the weekly Roma clinic and individual monthly outreach clinics at Injune, Mitchell and Wallumbilla and the demand is growing.
“The Charleville service is currently offered monthly and sees about 10 clients on average each month, and as this service builds, we will look at opportunities to increase the frequency and also introduce some outreach clinics to smaller centres.”
“At St George, the service currently has 20 clients who are seen every six weeks by our advanced allied health assistant there, with another 10 clients in Dirranbandi and eight at Surat who are also seen every six weeks during outreach visits to those communities.”
“We are also looking at extending the outreach service to Bollon in the near future.’’
Mr Ralph said the podiatry assistant service was designed for people with diabetic conditions,elderly people and any clients who were unable to complete their own nail care.
“Education is the key to minimizing future foot problems by helping people understand their feet and how to care for them properly and what to look out for.’’
The podiatry assistant service can be contacted through the Community and Allied Health units at the Roma, Charleville and St George hospitals.