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Inside this issue... Lift out: Asthma Friendly Education and Care Services Parent Survey


Update Issue 45 June 2012

Colds, flu and antibiotics

June 2012 I Asthma Update


Contents The cost of asthma: is it too much for you?.................. 3 Parent Survey................................................................... 4 From the President.......................................................... 6 Mickie Hardie - A life lived to the full............................ 7 Campaigning for safer heating in NSW schools........... 8 Colds, flu and antibiotics................................................. 9 Taking steps towards making Mount Isa an Asthma Friendly community....................................................... 10 Lift out feature: Asthma Friendly Education and Care Services............ 11 Foundation wins Governors’ Award ........................... 15 Asthma Update PO Box 603 KENT TOWN SA 5071 P: 0404 690 552 E: Published by Asthma Australia Š June 2012 Asthma Australia

The Asthma Swim Program meets a need in the Darwin community ............................................ 16 Research: Which swimming exercise is best for people with asthma................................................ 17 NRMA Insurance Broncos tackle asthma in 2012........ 17

Content Panel Jan Saunders, Sara Morgan, Emma Dunstan, Cathy Beswick, Paula Murray

Forging ahead with E-health in the Northern Territory.............................................. 18

Design Jo Weismann

How to Live Well with Asthma Information Sessions for the Italian Community...... 19


South Australian Regional Communities Breathe Better............................................................. 20

All Asthma Australia information is endorsed by our Medical and Scientific Advisory Committee and is consistent with the National Asthma Council Australia clinical guidelines. Asthma Australia information does not replace professional medical advice. People should ask their doctor any questions about diagnosis and treatment. This magazine can be copied for education purposes.


Asthma Update I June 2012

Ask the Educator......................................................... 21 How you can help people breathe better................. 22 Readers Survey............................................................ 23

The cost of asthma: is it too much for you? A survey has found many people are struggling with the cost of vital asthma medication, having to reduce or go without medication, resulting in asthma attacks that need urgent medical treatment. The online survey, conducted by Asthma Foundation NSW during April 2012 had an excellent response - 859 people had something to say about the financial cost of asthma in their family. The survey asked about the impact of the cost of medications, and the results provided many stories of hardship and challenge. 85% of people said that the cost of their asthma medication was an issue, with 38% finding it is usually or always an issue for them; so this isn’t something that only happens occasionally. As a result, almost half the people responding admitted they take less medication, or go without entirely, with one in ten saying this happens almost all the time. The difference in cost between types of medications has a big impact - many people admitted to controlling their asthma by using the cheaper reliever medication (usually ~$8), rather than using the more expensive daily preventer (~$36/month) which stops symptoms occurring. Although they feel that they are then safe in case of worsening symptoms, not taking preventer medication means that the inflammation can build up in the airways and potentially lead to a very serious attack. Of those who were skipping medications, 80% were not taking their preventer.

There were some who even skipped other medications such as oral steroids (for managing more serious attacks), or medications for other conditions. Many parents admitted to not buying medication for themselves so that they could buy all that their children needed for their own asthma. Skipping medications has a health impact – 64% of people said they’ve had an asthma attack as a result, and a number of those had to get urgent medical assistance. The challenge is multiplied by the genetic factors in asthma – it’s likely that more than one member of a family will have asthma, and some people who completed the survey had 5 people in one house who needed regular asthma medication – that can get pretty expensive. Add to that the issue of allergies and eczema, which often go hand in hand with asthma, and the treatments for these are commonly not on prescription, so not subsidised at all. Some households reported spending over $400 per month just on medications and treatments for asthma and allergies. Those with a Health Care Card have some relief, as all medications are a fixed, lower price, but there are clearly many people who don’t qualify yet still struggle to keep up with the bills.

…it’s a huge struggle and I deliberately put myself last so my children get what they need. I ended up having a major asthma attack and was rushed to hospital. They claimed my lungs had closed up so much if I had left it any longer they would not have been able to reopen the airways. I spent six days in hospital and several weeks after to get back to normal health. The cost of living is so high in many ways. It doesn’t seem fair to have to pay a significant cost for items that give you a better quality of life at worst, and save your life at best. I stopped taking the medication because of the cost and strain on finances. I simply can’t afford to buy the medication so I have to rely on my pensioner friends to give me some of their meds. June 2012 I Asthma Update


Parent survey Asthma Australia is contracted by the Australian government to provide training to staff in schools and preschools through the Asthma Foundations. A component of this work includes informing parents and carers of school aged children about their role in asthma management. It was identified that a resource based around communication with staff in education and care settings would be beneficial.

Asthma Australia website. Of the respondents to the survey,

In order to ensure we were meeting the needs of parents and carers in this regard, a national survey was instigated to ask parents/carers what they wanted. There was a significant level of response to the survey using networks through the Asthma Australia National Advisory Group, Foundation contacts and by promoting the survey on the

The education or care settings for the children ranged from pre-entry preschool through to senior secondary, with children in settings through to the end of primary school accounting for 86% and those in secondary settings accounting for 14%.


Asthma Update I June 2012

— 48% had a child with asthma — 36% had a child with asthma and a related health condition — 4% had a child with another health issue — 12% had children with no asthma or health issue

Parents and carers identified their greatest concerns with their

Asthma Foundations provide newsletters to schools and preschools each term. Information in these can be used in newsletters to parents. Articles are also regularly sent by Foundations directly to staff for use in newsletters.

Asthma Plans have lots of different names (eg Asthma Action Plan, Asthma Care Plan). Discuss with the child’s doctor the most appropriate Asthma Plan to help staff with their role in caring for a child with asthma &/or a linked condition.

children in care. Staff knowledge of emergency procedures was the number one concern, ensuring that children were able to communicate their need for assistance in an emergency and general safety whilst in care were other main concerns. All respondents supported the provision of a health care plan to the education or care setting as a vital tool in communicating with the staff. Ways to communicate with staff were also surveyed, with face to face communication preferred by 87% of respondents. Other communication methods well supported were phone, text, email and school diaries. The survey also explored ways to provide health information to parents and carers through education and care settings.

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Well supported methods included newsletters, parent information nights and provision of pamphlets. Preferred times to provide Asthma Plans and health information to staff were identified, with the start of each year rating highest. Transition periods, for example, when starting in a new school were also strongly supported as important times to provide information. The most important people on staff to communicate with were identified as the home group teacher or carer and the front office staff. A national pamphlet is being produced that uses this information along with consultation with education and care leaders to shape its contents. The pamphlet will take a partnership approach to asthma care and management in care settings.

son ’s r e p e on ” n ce. e a i to s r s e e e p h x t sag h a ve s n ot ve ryon e ’s e Mes i t o a n m y th te en ma da y they n r “All a s ie n ce is n o d l i h u s. C e but on e re qu i ri n g a o ex pe r i r e s a is a ck e ti m “Ast h mto ms a ll t h ll blown atta d mission.” a ct on d p u l n f a m a t i a y s h o sp h a ve o ble m r p s u cou ld u l a n ce a n d a s e rio d s e e.” t o p a mb s n ow to on ’t wa it a h s: w o ma h rent t s a “K n ckly – d p a r r the f thei o to o it qu i y e p c o i c adv nd a e nts’ s e n t h e y ’t r u e a o h P y w e r e su n isi n g if t h e y don g o c “M a k .” e r a bout o spea k u p d l pla n s i h y ou r c tion a n d t ve to h a c h a e y a “T m edic h o m a k n o wi n g w e n n e ed e ll.” o n to a n yconf id e nt i h out you.” t u fe e l w o word hild. Be l rig ht wit e h t t “Ge or you r c will be a ca re f you r child t h at

Mickie Hardie 1918 - 2011

From the It has been a busy time for the Foundations. Since the last issue of Asthma Update, we have really focussed on talking with people so we can review, update and expand our information for people with asthma and their carers. On page 23 you can learn about the feedback readers gave us on our national Asthma First Aid poster. You told us that our Asthma First Aid steps are clear and well set out – and also suggested improvements, many of which have been included in the updated resource. Thank you. We are asking for your advice and opinions again. This edition’s postcard and online survey ask you about asthma plans – do you have one; what helps people most in a plan; and how doctors and nurses, and people with asthma and their carers, can best use asthma plans. We’ll use your feedback to update our resources and education programs and in our work with health professionals. In our work with the community we have been hearing more and more how the cost of people’s asthma medication is causing them problems. Asthma Foundation NSW has conducted an online survey to find out more about this (see report page 3). Most


Asthma Update I June 2012


A life lived to the full

people who completed the survey said that cost is often a barrier to them and their family getting the asthma medication they need. Prescribed preventer medication must be taken daily as directed – even when you feel well. But the higher cost of preventer medication is an issue for people: 80% of those skipping medication were not taking their preventer and 64% of people who missed their medication had an asthma attack as a result, with some needing urgent medical assistance. The Foundations will be talking with communities to work out the best ways to address the issue of medication cost. Your ideas are welcomed or PO Box 603 KENT TOWN SA 5071 Finally, and with great sadness, in this issue we report the death of one of the founders of the national asthma movement, Mickie Hardie. Mickie was a very important person in the formation of the Asthma Foundations. She had a vision for a national asthma movement to help people with asthma to live well with their asthma. Debra Kay Chief Executive Officer Asthma Australia

A lone piper and the sweet lament of the Skye Boat Song accompanied Mickie Hardie OAM up the aisle of St. John’s Anglican Church in Tamworth where some 400 people gathered to pay homage to a life less ordinary. Her passing on December 9, 2011, in the 50th anniversary year of Asthma Foundation NSW was met with much sadness. Mickie Hardie was an extraordinarily courageous and dynamic person which was demonstrated by the story of the birth of the Foundation. Most remarkably, her achievements were undertaken in an era that pre-dated “women’s lib” in Australia by a decade. Fifty years ago Australia was a very different place and attitudes to health and women were also very different...

Mickie always said that the Asthma Foundation was her greatest passion and her family was her greatest love. It was her daughter Catherine’s severe asthma that led to the creation of the Foundation. Doctors didn’t recognise asthma as a medical condition and told her it was the result of over-protective mothering. Fortunately, a GP lived next door and on many occasions had to scramble through a gap in the fence to inject Catherine with adrenalin, the only way to treat asthma in those days. However, a chance meeting with Leila Schmidt, the mother of an asthmatic son, at Sydney’s Lane Cove Park pointed the way forwards. Leila had endured similar experiences and the two mothers decided to set up a charity to do something about it. Setting up a charity in the early 1960’s was challenging especially in the medical profession as it wasn’t the “done thing”, especially for ladies from the polite society. “A social butterfly,” was how Mickie described herself, a regular fixture in the Sydney Morning Herald social pages. She used all her social connections to help her register the Asthma Foundation of NSW in 1961 and open an office in Sydney in 1962. It had an immediate impact. In the official Asthma Foundation NSW biography, Coming Up For Air, Mickie said of that first day “…We opened the doors and the world rushed in. People came up the stairs and said, “God bless you, someone’s doing something at last.” The primary purpose of the new Foundation, which quickly spread to regional areas in NSW and into the other States, was to raise money for asthma research, which was virtually non-existent at the time. The first appeal in 1963 featured a national door knock and fundraising gimmicks such as

dinner parties, film nights, fashion parades and elephant rides, raised £225,000 – the largest sum ever raised by an Australian charity at that time. Mickie loved telling people how she would go to a factory, stand up on a chair in the canteen and persuade the shop floor workers to give her a contribution. Even after she’d raised the money the medical profession still insisted that they would decide what research would be carried out. The money helped to kick-start asthma research in Australia and the careers of young researchers like Ann Woolcock, Euan Tovey, Judy Black and Sandy Anderson, whose pioneering work has earned them world renown reputations and helped Australia to establish a world class research program. Today, the Foundation continues to support vital asthma research, with a focus on up and coming researchers.

Mickie was very proud to learn that the Asthma Foundations planned to launch a National Asthma Research Program in 2012 to ensure the very best asthma research across Australia receives funding. In 1997 Mickie Hardie was awarded a medal of the Order of Australia for her services to community health and in 2003 both Mickie and Leila were awarded a Lifetime Achievement Award and inducted into the Research Australia Hall of Fame. Although the funeral service lasted two hours it seemed too short to pay full tribute to such a life. In truth, it was a celebration rather than a funeral, but that’s how she would have wanted it. It’s with great sadness that we must say goodbye to Mickie, but her spirit will live on in the good work that continues in her name.


The campaign continues for the replacement of these heaters. While the cost of replacing these heaters is high, it is maintained that a staged replacement program should begin now, starting with schools in the coldest areas of NSW. All parents, principals and teachers are encouraged to ensure the following to minimise potential health risks to children during the winter months.

Campaigning for safer heating in NSW schools For the last two and a half years Asthma Foundation NSW has been lobbying the State government for the removal of unflued gas heaters in NSW schools. Unflued gas heaters have been removed in all other states of Australia due to the health risk they pose to children in classrooms. The heaters emit noxious gases including carbon monoxide and nitrogen dioxide which have both been found to exacerbate asthma symptoms. Recently the NSW Minister for Education, Adrian Piccoli, announced that unflued gas heaters in NSW public schools will not be replaced until the majority of heaters in a school reach the end of their service life. This means that if a single unflued gas heater were to fail, it would be replaced with another. Disappointingly, this indicates that it’s possible the heaters won’t be replaced for decades. The Minister’s announcement was based on the outcome of


Asthma Update I June 2012

an Environmental Health Risk Assessment study of unflued gas heaters commissioned by the former Labor government. The assessment acknowledged that there were health risks associated with unflued gas heaters but it concluded that any health benefits of removing them were outweighed by the significant cost of replacing them. However, countless peer-reviewed studies have concluded that the gases emitted from these heaters are harmful to children’s respiratory health. The most recent government funded study, conducted by the Woolcock Institute of Medical Research, published in 2010 concluded; “…Classroom exposure to ‘low Nox’ unflued gas heaters causes increased respiratory symptoms, particularly in atopic (hypersensitive to allergies) children” and recommended “It is important to seek alternative sources of heating that do not have adverse effects on health.”

1. Ensure windows are opened in classrooms where unflued gas heaters are being operated, allowing cross ventilation and preventing the buildup of noxious gases in the classroom. 2. Parents and P&C groups should ensure that the school’s heaters are being regularly serviced to ensure they are operating as cleanly and efficiently as possible and do not become misaligned, which can pose a serious risk to health. 3. Parents should ensure their children have updated asthma plans and carry their reliever medication at all times in case they experience symptoms in the classroom. 4. Parents and P&C groups should ensure that school staff have had asthma training. All Asthma Foundations offer free one hour training sessions covering topics such as asthma first aid and management in schools. Training is available to all schools in Australia. For more information about asthma and its management or to book a training session for your school 1800 645 130

Colds, flu and antibiotics Colds and flu are common at this time of year and can make you feel really sick. It is especially difficult if you are over 55 years of age, or have a chronic condition, such as asthma, heart disease, or a weakened immune system.

Most people who have a cold or flu can get better on their own, without antibiotics. This is because colds and flu are caused by viruses, which don’t respond to antibiotics. However people with chronic conditions may be given antibiotics, as they are more likely to develop complications which can be treated with antibiotics, such as pneumonia. If your doctor prescribes an antibiotic, it is important to take them correctly: — know how long you need to take it for— if this is not clear from the pharmacy label, ask your doctor or pharmacist — always take the antibiotics for as long as the doctor instructs, even if you are feeling better — don’t take left-over antibiotics or any that weren’t prescribed for you

— don’t share your antibiotics with others.

— Cover your mouth when sneezing or coughing.

Not taking antibiotics correctly may contribute to antibiotic resistance. Antibiotic resistance is a growing problem and poses a serious threat to the health and wellbeing of all Australians.

— Keep your hands away from your eyes, nose and mouth.

Over time, the misuse and overuse of antibiotics globally has led to the creation of resistant bacteria which cause infections that are harder to treat. There are some other things you can do to stay healthy and well in cold and flu season, and stop infections from spreading: — Get the annual flu vaccine and check if you need the pneumococcal vaccine (ask your doctor or pharmacist about this).

— Wash your hands after sneezing, coughing or blowing your nose. The National Prescribing Service (NPS) has launched a campaign to encourage all Australians to join the fight against antibiotic resistance. You can sign up via Facebook/NPSMedicinewise or visit for more information Call your state or territory COTA office to have a peer educator visit your group to present on colds, flu and antibiotic resistance.

— Use tissues to blow your nose, and throw them away after use. June 2012 I Asthma Update


Taking steps towards making Mount Isa an Asthma Friendly community

One in ten people in Australia have asthma, making the effects of this condition on health, wellbeing and productivity substantial.

and child care centres learned about recognising the signs of worsening asthma as well as what to do in an asthma emergency.

also spent time with staff from Mount Isa Hospital, Blue Care Respite Centre and local child care centres.

All Asthma Foundations make their first priority supporting people with asthma, and their carers.

‘It can be difficult sometimes for parents to send their child off to school with a chronic condition,’ said Ms Crawford. ‘By providing training for education staff, we hope to give parents a greater level of confidence that their child is in safe hands with professionals who know what to do in an asthma emergency.’

Janelle from Mount Isa Hospital was particularly grateful for the training. ‘I thank Asthma Foundation Queensland for making the trip to Mount Isa,’ she said. ‘The information provided was excellent and I really appreciate the Foundation’s dedication to people with asthma living in regional Queensland.’

However, following a survey of people with asthma conducted by Asthma Foundation Queensland in 2011, we found that people living in regional Queensland had the lowest level of readily accessible information. Two Foundation asthma educators, Tonia Crawford and Alicia Goodwin from Brisbane, recently visited Mount Isa to train a number of health professionals, school and childcare staff on asthma awareness, management and first aid. A total of 96 people were trained over 6 training sessions. 63 school and child care staff from eleven different Mount Isa schools


Asthma Update I June 2012

Asthma is more prevalent among people living in areas of socioeconomic disadvantage including Indigenous communities. Asthma educators spent time with 6 Indigenous Health Workers from Mount Isa Community Health to enable them to work more closely with people with asthma and their families in order to raise confidence and build capacity within the community in regards to asthma. During their trip, Tonia and Alicia

Asthma Foundations across Australia believe that regardless of location or life circumstance, people should have access to high quality services and information about their asthma and linked conditions. One person a day in Australia dies from asthma. By providing education, we are helping people to breathe easily – and giving those with asthma, and their caregivers the confidence to manage asthma and potentially save a life.

Lift out feature!

Asthma Friendly Education and Care Services June 2012 I Asthma Update


Asthma Friendly Education and Care Services “What a great program. I now feel confident enough to perform asthma first aid. Thank you so much”

For over a decade the Foundations have provided training to staff in schools, and since 2010 this has included preschools, funded by the Australian government. Working with all education sectors and ensuring reach into rural and remote locations through the network of trainers across the nation, current figures show we have trained staff in about 60% of schools and 30% of preschools. The Foundations are also building their capacity to work with staff in early childhood education and care settings, with a number of Asthma Friendly Childcare programs happening. Several of these programs are being evaluated to ensure the Asthma Friendly program is meeting the need of this sector. These projects and the “Asthma Friendly” development across a wide range of settings involved in caring for our children assists Foundations to work in partnership with families and care staff to support best practice asthma management.

“Very well presented, clear and specific. Learnt some new things about asthma”

“Very informative. Well presented. Thank you, I feel more confident now”

What does Asthma Friendly mean? By meeting the following criteria a service can ensure they are able to support families and children that have asthma, in a holistic, practical way: Asthma Friendly criteria Early childhood education and care services need to meet four criteria to be declared Asthma Friendly: 1. Education and training Majority of staff have current Asthma Australia approved asthma first aid training 2. Equipment Asthma Emergency Kits (AEKs) are accessible and include in-date reliever medication, single person use spacer – with a mask, for under 5 year olds 3. Information Asthma First Aid posters are on display and staff and parents can access information 4. Policies First aid and other health and safety policies explicitly include asthma

“Was a good program. To the point and easy for anyone to understand”

June 2012 I Asthma Update


I am keen to create a policy for my centre for asthma, but not sure where to start? An Asthma Friendly policy will describe how your service manages asthma, what steps management will put in place to support this, what you expect of staff and what you will require from parents to assist with this.

“Very well explained, great easy steps to follow” How do I access training? Organising training is very simple. Your local Asthma Foundation can provide you with all the information you need, assist with training and help you work through the criteria. Speak to your local Asthma Foundation to find out the following: How long is the training session? This will help you plan your training. Foundations can usually offer a variety of times to suit your service, including evening sessions, and come to your centre. How much does it cost? How long is the training valid for?

What is an Asthma Emergency kit? Asthma Australia has just released its new Asthma Emergency Kit. The kit contains everything that you need to handle an asthma emergency. This includes a spacer and mask if you are caring for children under the age of 5, instructions for Asthma First Aid, spacer information (including what to do with the spacer once it has been used), and a kit log. Once you receive the kit, you will need to purchase blue reliever medication from your local pharmacy.

Where can I get Asthma First Aid posters? Your local Foundation can provide you with a variety of posters to suit your needs, including A4 posters and fridge magnets. All Foundations can provide a range of quality asthma information to help you learn more about asthma.

Requirements under the new childcare national law and regulations specify exactly the aims of your centre. Asthma Friendly policies meet these regulations. Some key points you will need to consider – please speak to your local Asthma Foundation for full details and ask for an Asthma Friendly Education and Care service pack. Parents: Provide an Asthma Care Plan, signed by the treating doctor Provide their child’s medication Staff: Document any asthma attack and advise parents/carers as a matter of priority Have a spacer – and mask – replacement policy Management: Meet requirements under the National Law and Regulations Have Asthma Emergency Kits, with in date medication at all times. To find out more about Asthma Friendly training, kits and more Contact your local Asthma Foundation 1800 645 130

Foundation wins Governors’ Award

Asthma Foundation SA was pleased to announce it was the recipient of the 2011 Governor’s Multicultural Award for Best Community Sector Organisation for its achievement in addressing the needs of Culturally and Linguistically Diverse (CALD) communities. The Governor of South Australia, His Excellency Rear Admiral Kevin Scarce presented the award to Chief Executive David Bedson at a ceremony in Government House, SA. “We are extremely proud to accept this award. It demonstrates the hard work of our organisation in striving to be culturally responsive and committed to addressing the needs of CALD communities – which is one of our key goals in our strategic directions,” said Mr Bedson.

▲ AFSA CEO David Bedson receiving the award from SA Governor, His Excellency Kevin Scarce. Photograph: Stephen Watts Photography

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Whilst this Award recognises the excellent work achieved in South Australia, it is reflective of the outstanding support provided by Asthma Foundations to priority and disadvantaged communities. This work is funded by the Australian Government, through the Asthma Management Program.

Need more asthma info? Go to to check out Asthma Basic Facts, Medications and Devices, our handy checklists, and download the Asthma First Aid poster. Or you can contact your local Foundation to request these brochures 1800 645 130 June 2012 I Asthma Update


The Asthma Swim Program meets a need in the Darwin community

Asthma is a common condition in Australia with many families often struggling with appropriate asthma management for their children. Asthma Foundation NT became aware that asthma education was often provided to families: — when children had acute asthma — and parents were tired and distressed In response to this the Asthma Swim Program was established creating an informal setting in which parents/carers would feel comfortable in seeking information and support for their child’s asthma. At the same time a healthy lifestyle was encouraged by offering swimming instruction to their children. This program is unique to the Northern Territory and has now been in

operation in Darwin for 10 years. In this period enrolments have increased considerably with over 100 children as participants. Children with asthma are invited to attend the program with two options: — learn-to-swim classes — twice weekly squad training An asthma educator attends sessions where parents/carers can seek information about appropriate asthma management. An asthma monitoring system is in place and the educator uses this to tailor asthma information to the particular needs of the child. Group asthma education sessions for parents/carers are provided once per term and attendance at one session per year is a part of the terms and conditions of enrolment. Last year a formal evaluation of this program indicated it was widely valued amongst participating families as an effective strategy in asthma management of their children. Children

enjoyed the program and had increased capacity and confidence in the water. They also derived therapeutic benefits with significant improvements being observed in their overall health as well as in their asthma management.

helped our son’s asthma and made him and us much happier folk Parents reported having a better general understanding of asthma as a result of being involved in the program. The vast majority also had a better understanding of asthma medications and devices, were more able to recognise signs and symptoms of asthma, had a greater understanding and awareness of the triggers linked to their child’s asthma, were more able to manage their child’s asthma and had greater confidence to act in an asthma emergency. In general there was overwhelming endorsement of the program as it is currently operated. Asthma Foundation NT thanks principal partners ConocoPhillips Australia for their ongoing support of this program in the Darwin community.

Insurance Broncos Research: NRMA tackle asthma in 2012 Asthma Friendly Sports Club Program

Which swimming exercise is best for people with asthma? Asthma Foundation Tasmania has allocated vital funding for medical research students to review effective swimming exercises for people with asthma. The $2,000 scholarship will jointly support three students at the Menzies Research Institute Tasmania, undertaking their first health professional degree, to conduct the review over the next five years. Asthma Foundation Tasmania CEO, Cathy Beswick, said the outcome of the project would ensure swimmers with respiratory problems achieve the best outcomes when trying to improve their health. ‘Anecdotally it is understood swimming is an outstanding form of exercise,’ Ms Beswick said. ‘This research will give us a strong scientific foundation for deciding to whom to recommend this form of exercise and the type of exercise they should undertake. Ms Beswick said the student scholarship was awarded following an agreement with the Menzies Research Institute Tasmania, continuing the Australian Cochrane Airways Group Network’s scholarship scheme. The Australian Cochrane Airways Group Network’s scholarship scheme facilitates the activities of the Cochrane Collaboration, which encourages individuals to work together to provide the best evidence for health care. The Australian Network provides clinical information on a range of airway diseases, including asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and bronchiectasis.

Sports clubs are becoming increasingly aware of the seriousness of asthma and are taking precautions to ensure they are adequately prepared in the event of an asthma emergency. During 2012, Asthma Foundation Queensland, in partnership with the NRMA Insurance Broncos, is helping create safe and supportive sporting environments for people with asthma through the Asthma Friendly Sports Club program. The program aims to increase the number of people with asthma participating in sports and recreation by providing much needed asthma first aid training and resources to sports clubs in SouthEast Queensland. All sports clubs that participate in the program receive an Asthma Emergency Kit and the opportunity to be recognised as an ‘Asthma Friendly’ sports club. “The Asthma Friendly Sports Club program will increase the confidence of coaches and trainers in their ability to manage players with asthma and respond to an asthma attack”, said Broncos prop and long-term asthma ambassador, Scott Anderson. “The training workshop was fantastic. I have two players with asthma on my team and I now feel more confident to help them in an emergency”, said a workshop attendee. Asthma Foundation Queensland formally launched the program on 10th March at the Brisbane Broncos Leagues Club by training 50 junior rugby league coaches and development staff. A number of other training workshops have been scheduled throughout the year for sport coaches and trainers.

For more information about asthma, education and training Contact your local Asthma Foundation 1800 645 130

June 2012 I Asthma Update


ns mea t i t a Wh you. for

In July this year, the Australian Government will be introducing ehealth records. These records will be PAGE controlled by A you. They are called Personally Controlled Electronic Health Records. You will probably hear about these a fair bit over the next few months. Below is some information provided by the government to help you understand more about what they mean. Currently, health records are mainly paper-based and are stored in different locations with little connection to each other or health providers. Your eHealth record will allow you to access a summary of your important information via one secure online portal, meaning you no longer have to remember every medication or test. Just as internet banking revolutionised the way we manage our finances, eHealth has the potential to change how we manage our healthcare. If you want an eHealth record you need to opt in, it is up to each individual to choose, whether they switch to the electronic health record, or carry on with the current system. If you would like further information on the eHealth system have a look at the following website: The Northern Territory has been trialling a similar system for some time.


Asthma Update I June 2012

Forging ahead with eHealth in the Northern Territory

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The Northern Territory has one of the most advanced electronic healthcare record programs in Australia that extends coverage to a highly mobile, widely dispersed and largely Indigenous population. The NT’s Shared Electronic Health Record (SEHR) allows clinicians to access a patient’s record regardless of where they live, where they travel and where they were last treated. This comprehensive record covers patient conditions and prescribed medications as well as specialist letters and pathology reports, all of which is accessible to the consulting physician. The Northern Territory is also a Wave 2 site of the national Personally Controlled Electronic Health Record (PCEHR) program which is due to begin on 1 July 2012. This system will be integrated into the NT’s existing SEHR to add new functionality to the record and expand its reach into three States/Territories. These new locations will include the Kimberley region of Western Australia, South Australia and urban areas of the Northern Territory not already covered in what was initially a service that prioritised remote and regional communities in the NT.

This Wave 2 PCEHR project is unique to other pilot sites because it involves a high proportion of Indigenous Australians who typically have higher levels of chronic disease and shorter life spans. In geographical terms it is also the largest of the PCEHR pilot sites. Jan Saunders Executive Officer of Asthma Foundation NT says “In the NT we have a very transient population and I believe that the PCEHR will be of immense value. It will enable health practitioners to provide continuity of care in asthma self-management which may reduce hospital admissions and attendance at emergency departments.” Other advantages of a national electronic health system to people with asthma are: — It is more efficient and less time consuming — It eliminates cultural and linguistic barriers — It provides an opportunity for higher quality care through better decision making and — It is easily transportable between various levels of care and health service providers.

“Come convivere bene con l’asma Sessione informativa per la comunità italiana” How to Live Well with Asthma Information Sessions for the Italian Community Many people think of asthma as a childhood condition. However people can start having asthma symptoms at any age often thinking that their symptoms are part of getting older. It is important that everyone in the community understands asthma, so that we can support partners and families. Having older people learn about asthma, helps all of our community with many grandparents today, helping care for their grandchildren. Recently Asthma Foundation Victoria, in collaboration with the Italian community welfare organisation, Co.As.It, ran fifteen “Come convivere bene con l’asma” (How to live well with asthma) information sessions across Victoria.

“I have been using a puffer for many many years and I thought I was using it correctly, now I know that I should be using a spacer with my puffer” – Member of the Cranbourne Italian Senior Citizen Club

“I had a very bad cold this winter and I still have a dry cough and wheeze when I go to bed, now I know that colds and flus could be a trigger for some people with asthma, I will go to the doctor to check up” - Member of the Cranbourne Italian Senior Citizen Club The sessions were part of the Senior Italian Asthma Project, funded by the Picchi Brothers Foundation. The project set out to: — Raise awareness of asthma in the older Italian community — Enable senior Italians to better recognise and manage their asthma — Develop culturally appropriate resources to support the senior Italian community with asthma. The sessions were delivered with Italian interpreters to Italian Senior Citizen Clubs across Victoria, with many people attending. An asthma basic facts brochure was developed in Italian and provided to attendees. The sessions emphasised that “Avere il fiato corto non è

normale quando si invecchia” (Being breathless is not a normal part of ageing). By working in partnership with the Italian community partner, Co.As.It, Asthma Foundation Victoria was able achieve their mission of helping people with asthma to breathe better, no matter how old they are, where they were born or what language they speak. If you would like more information about asthma Contact your local Asthma Foundation 1800 645 130 If you require assistance with interpreting, you can call the Translating and Interpreting Service on 13 14 50. June 2012 I Asthma Update


South Australian Regional Communities Breathe Better Recent statistics reveal that prevalence of asthma is known to be significantly higher in people living in regional areas compared to those living in major cities.

– Increase the ability of people with asthma and respiratory conditions, and their carers, to effectively manage their conditions

We recognise South Australian communities as important longterm partners in delivering our on-ground high-voltage power projects.”

In an effort to combat these facts, ElectraNet has partnered with Asthma Foundation SA to develop the South Australian Regional Communities Breathe Better program.

– Increase the knowledge and confidence of health care providers to better support people with asthma and respiratory conditions

“With asthma being one of Australia’s most widespread chronic health problems, ElectraNet is delighted to be associated with a program which will increase asthma awareness throughout regional South Australia.”

The partnership will allow Asthma Foundation SA to visit 11 regional communities over each of the next three years. The program has been developed to provide information to people with asthma and linked conditions (and their carers) so they can better manage their respiratory health conditions. Key objectives of the program include:


Asthma Update I June 2012

– Create environments that support the appropriate management of an asthma emergency – Increase availability of asthma resources and services within the community. ElectraNet spokesperson Mr Simon Emms (Senior Manager Project Delivery) also said, “ElectraNet provides the backbone of the electricity supply system in South Australia.

The Regional Communities Breathe Better program was launched in Clare on March 22 and will include 11 regional centres including Strathalbyn, Millicent, Goolwa, Wudinna, Loxton and Keith. For more information or a full list of locations, contact Asthma Foundation SA on 08 8238 9300 or visit

Ask the Educator All Asthma Australia information is endorsed by our Medical and Scientific Advisory Committee and is consistent with the National Asthma Council clinical guidelines. Asthma Australia information does not replace professional medical advice. People should ask their doctor any questions about diagnosis and treatment.

If you have questions you would like answered – please submit these to

My son has been coughing for over a week now especially at night. He had croup when he was nine months old and now he is 3. Could his cough mean he has asthma? Cough can be irritating for anyone, and it is the cause of many sleepless nights for children and parents alike. Having a cough does not necessarily mean that your child has asthma, though it is a really common asthma symptom in young children. In the past many young children who had a frequent cough as their only symptom were diagnosed with asthma. Nowadays, doctors believe that children who cough without wheezing do not necessarily have asthma. Many children will develop a lingering cough after they’ve had a viral infection. Childhood cough without any other cause often goes away by age 6 or 7. Of course there are other reasons for cough, unrelated to asthma, such as bacterial infections, reflux, common colds and viral bronchitis. Asthma medications, including relievers and preventers, are less likely to be effective if asthma is not the cause of the cough. Croup, another common cause of cough, is a result of a viral infection and it mostly affects children between 6 months and 3 years old. Croup often begins as a common cold with a slight fever, sore throat and runny nose a few days before the cough kicks in. A child with croup may develop a “barking” cough with a hoarse voice and noisy breathing. This usually happens at night when the air is cooler, lasting for a few hours, then stops and sometimes occurs again on the next few nights. If your child is wheezing, short of breath, or has a persistent cough, you really need to have them reviewed by your doctor. The doctor will be able to suggest the best way to control their symptoms, depending on the cause. Because children under 7 cannot reliably perform lung function tests, a diagnosis of asthma is usually based on the type and pattern of their symptoms, as well as family history. It’s rare to get a proper diagnosis of asthma before a child is at least 2 years old, as there are many other reasons for these symptoms at that age.

Will my child grow out of asthma? The frequency of asthma and asthma symptoms does change with age. Some people with asthma in childhood will have few or no asthma symptoms in adulthood. Symptoms in people with asthma do vary over time, some people may find their asthma symptoms go away and they are able to stop medications, while others may notice an increase or worsening of their asthma after years of being symptom free. It is worth noting that if a young child only has symptoms with colds or flu, and no signs of asthma in between, they are more likely to have no asthma symptoms in older childhood or adult life. Research shows us that asthma is more common in boys than girls, but it is more common in women than in men. If you are interested in reading more about the statistics and numbers of asthma in Australia, got to Asthma Snapshot…

Remember, if you’re worried, go and see your doctor. June 2012 I Asthma Update


How you can help people breathe better You can make a difference The support services provided by Asthma Foundations in each State and Territory are made possible largely through the generosity of local community support. Donors, volunteers, corporate partners and consumers all play a crucial role in enabling Foundations to function as they do. Bequests provide an especially critical source of funding because it provides an opportunity to leave a gift of particular significance. A Bequest to your local Asthma Foundation truly does have power to change the world you leave behind. It could fund the research project that might make important new discoveries in the treatment of asthma ‌ and possibly find that elusive cure.

Asthma Foundation SA Community Relations and Bequest Officer Kathy Hatzi with Josephine Wall at the Tipsy Hill Garden


Recently, Asthma Foundation SA held a luncheon for its Breathe Better Benefactors Society – the generous group of supporters who have planned to leave a legacy to Asthma Foundation SA. The event was held at Tipsy Hill, the private Estate of Margaret and Christopher Burrell in the beautiful McLaren Vale region of South Australia and provided Asthma Foundation SA with the opportunity to formally and publicly acknowledge the generous support of these individuals. For information on how you can leave a legacy, contact your local Asthma Foundation on 1800 645 130.

How about making a donation to your local Asthma Foundation? Foundations rely on public donations, bequests and the support of corporate partners to fund core community programs and services. No donation is too small and all donations over $2 are tax-deductible.

Asthma Update Issue 44 -

Readers postcard survey responses The last Readers’ Survey focused on the Asthma First Aid poster, for which we sought your feedback and input. Thank you so much to everyone who responded. The feedback was very useful. Some people indicated that they were interested in providing further input, and commented on our draft wording. An additional thank you for taking the time, and for your efforts! If you are interested in assisting in this way, please contact It is very important to us that our resources are useful to the people for which they are intended!

Always carry your blue

My Asthma Action Plan Visit your doctor regularly

to ensure your Asthma

2. Do the images help you understand the steps? 82.4% said yes 17.6% said no

Asthma First Aid 1 2

Waking most nights and mornings with coughing or chest tightness

Septemb © Asthma Australia





puffs puffs


Difficulty speaking

• Take 4 puffs of a blue reliever puffer (one puff at a time), through a spacer device*. Take four breaths from the spacer after each puff. use a * If no spacer is available, blue reliever puffer on its own.

See doctor as soon as you


plan – turn over and 4 step asthma first aid

Life-threatening asthma Call 000 immediately aid and begin asthma first



Other: Other:

• Relax, sit up.


er 2010



2 3 4

Sit the pe rson

upright — Be cal m and rea ssu — Do no t leave the ring m alone

Give 4 pu ffs

of blue

reliever pu — Use a spacer if ffer medic there is — Shak one ation e puffer — Put 1 puff int o spacer — Take 4 breath s from spa Repeat cer until 4 pu ffs have Rememb been tak er: Shak en e, 1 puff, 4 breath s

Wait 4 m inutes

— If the re is no improve as above ment,

give 4 mo re


If there is still no emergenc provem y assistaim nce (DIALent call — Say ‘am bulance’ OOO)* and tha asthma t

someone attack — Keep is having giving 4 an puffs ev emergen ery 4 mi cy assist nutes un ance arr til Triple Zer ives

*If calling

o (000) doe s not wo rk on you r mobile

phone, Call em try 112 ergency assistanc — If the e imme person is diately not breath — If the (DIAL 00 person’s ing 0) asthma — If the suddenly person is become having an — If you s worse, asthma are not or is not attack an sure if it’s Blue reli improvin ever me d a puffe asthma g dication r is not av is unlike ailable ly to har m, eve

n if the

person doe s not hav e asthm a

To find out 1800 645 more contact you 130 ast r local Ast © Asthma hmaau Australia stralia.o hma Foundatio 2012 Supp n orted by

Translatin g Interpret and ing Service 131 450

In addition to revamping, the Asthma First Aid Poster, other core brochures are reviewed on an annual basis. Go to to check out Asthma Basic Facts, Medications and devices, our handy checklists, and download the Asthma First Aid poster, too! Or contact your local Foundation to request these brochures 1800 645 130


Life threatening asthma



the Aust ralian Gove rnment



MUST NOT made any dark colour, but These black logos may be logos where a reverse is needed be reversed out. Use the white

emergency improvement call If there is still no L 000) a attack assistance (DIA having an asthm tor the person is — Tell the opera tes while you wait puffs every 4 minu — Keep giving 4 ance for emergency assist

contact your To find out more dation: local Asthma Foun 1800 645 130 asthmaaustralia.o 450 reting Service: 131 Government Translating and Interp d by the Australian


shield (excluding rays) is 10mm across mantle and Minimum size for A4 and under 28mm on A1 14mm on A3; 20mm on A2; white logos may be changed to The black text on the colour height of the symbol of at least one third of the All logos to have a clear space

Wait 4 minutes repeat step 2 improvement, — If there is no

000) ediately (DIAL assistance imm e Call emergency becomes wors asthma suddenly if the person’s


the logos - these reverse logos

Pla in En glis h, easy to un dersta nd Time needs to be clearer Ste p 2 wordin g is confusing Show 4 mins – clock not clear Improve spacer image all print Bigge r text, red uce sm R ed re info es d a n g er Sh ow som eon e act ua lly usi ng a rcspa cer

Readers’ postcard survey

Asthma Plan – What would help you manage your asthma?




The blue patch is only to show will sit on your background

n Give medicatio reliever puffer* — Shake the blue if you have one — Use a spacer the spacer rate puffs into — Give 4 sepa after each puff from the spacer — Take 4 breaths

3 4

reliever with you.

Needing blue reliever at least every three hours

upright Sit the person reassuring — Be calm and them alone — Do not leave

What makes it hard or easy to follow? Examples of feedback:

have access aler if you do not Bricanyl Turbuh *You can use a spacer have to a puffer and e who doesn’t medication to someon Giving blue reliever to harm them asthma is unlikely

asthma call 1800 645 130


Needing blue reliever more than three times/week

Cough or chest tightness wakes me up

Needing blue reliever less than three times/week

1. Is the plan easy to follow? 89.2% said yes 10.8% said no

Doctor’s Phone No.:

Doctor’s Signature:


Well Controlled

Able to do normal activities

For more information on

Action Plan remains current

Doctor’s Name:


Here is a sample of your feedback, and how we used this to adapt our First Aid information. Readers’ Survey – Asthma First Aid Poster

Severe shortness of breath

3 • Wait 4 minutes.

Little or no relief from blue puffer

4 • If little or no improvement, repeat steps 2 and 3.

The Editor Asthma Update PO Box 603 KENT TOWN SA 5071

If still no improvement, call an ambulance immediately (Dial 000). Repeat steps 2 and 3 until ambulance arrives.


of d nurses doctors anthem about k to the say to could tal 4. If you , what would you .. Australia hma plans? ................ .... ast .... n .... writte ................ .............. ................ ................ ................ ................ ...... n ................ ................ .... .... have bee .... .... ns .... pla .... .... ............ a Plan ma action what ple with ................ written asth s for helping peo Asthm h asthma, a 20 years, ................ people wit t how an e guideline us that only around For the last ou k to other ws best practic n. could tal mend to them ab part of the wever, research sho asthma pla 5. If you er Ho ma use an you recom help them? asthma. uld ders wheth and with asth ...... wo Rea .... ple ld .... peo n cou out from ful it is quarter of ................ n to find asthma pla d, how use m look .. ................ stralia is kee that is use ................ ................ ht help the Asthma Au n is something ................ pla ................ s’ think mig ...... an asthma a Update Reader ................ .... .... .... .... .... .... hm .... No what Ast ................ ................ ma. .... Yes asth .... ir .... after the a plan? ............ .... itten asthm ................ ................ have a wr ................ ? 1. Do you it for you ................ .............. ..... o wrote ................ ................ ................ If yes, wh Name: .... ................ ................ No .... .... .... .... .... .... Yes .... .... ? ............ ................ ................ e help you ................ Email: .... having on ................ a plan? uld .... hm .... wo , ast .... ......a If no ....fix ve an ............ should ha ........ Ple Phone: .... .............. you think st, ................ ................ 2. Who do rn via po .. ................ ................ ................ and retu te:............ ................ .... Sta .... : mp .... .... .... sta e .... .... on-lin at ................ le e survey u ................ for peop ................ mplete th co best thing manage their or the is thmaa e as th you think lp them he do to to at ts wn gh 3. Wh itten do your thou .au ...... to have wr or email ................ asthma? ................ thm ................ itor@as .............. .... .... ed .... .... .... .... .... ............ ................ .............. ................ ................ ................ ................ ................ ................

For the last 20 years, written asthma action plans have been part of the best practice guidelines for helping people with asthma. However, research shows us that only around a quarter of people with asthma use an asthma plan. Asthma Australia is keen to find out from Readers whether an asthma plan is something that is used, how useful it is and what Asthma Update Readers’ think might help them look after their asthma – online/postcard 1. Do you have a written asthma plan? Yes/No If yes, who wrote it? If no, would having one help you? 2. Who do you think should have an asthma plan? 3. What do you think is the best thing for people to have written down to help them manage their asthma? 4. If you could talk to the doctors and nurses of Australia, what would you say to them about written asthma plans? 5. If you could talk to other people with asthma, what would you recommend to them about how an asthma plan could help them?

June 2012 I Asthma Update


Helping people with asthma breathe better

To find out more about asthma information and training contact:

1800 645 130 (office hours)

Asthma Update  

Inside this Issue: Lift out: Asthma Friendly Education and Care Services, Parent Survey, Colds, flu and antibiotics

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