Your health, our commitment



Palliative Care team

At the end of your life, what matters most?

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This year’s National Palliative Care Week (19-20 May) involved the theme, ‘What Matters Most?’, which asked Australians to reflect on what would be most important to them if they became seriously unwell.

“Dying is a normal part of life so it is important for all Australians to have discussions about death and dying and they type of care they would want to receive if they could no longer speak for themselves,” says Cheryl Bush, executive Manager of Clinical and Nursing Services at Gippsland Lakes Community Health (GLCH).

“By having a conversation with loved ones and health professionals, people can ensure their treatment and care best aligns with their values and preferences regarding both the type and place of care and place of death,” Ms Bush adds.

GLCH has a team of compassionate staff who provide specialist health care and practical support to people who have advanced disease or a life-limiting illness. The GLCH Palliative Care team includes the Home Based Nursing team who have specific qualification or expertise in palliative care providing care as needed 7 days per week, along with a Nurse Practitioner and Psychosocial Support Worker who work collaboratively toward supporting local GPs and community based nursing services across East Gippsland in the provision of palliative care.

GLCH offers an Advance Care Planning service where people can plan ahead for their future health and personal care needs, in the event they become unable to make decisions themselves. A registered nurse, who is trained in Advance Care Planning is available by appointment to talk to you and your family members at home or in your office. The nurse will provide information, resources and guidance to help you create your individualised plan.

Nursing staff can also deliver an introductory session called “Making The Last Chapter Reflect The Whole Book”, which is ideal for small community groups who are interested in planning for their future.

To find out more about palliative care and end-of-life services, contact the nursing team at GLCH on 5155 8300.

Palliative Care team

Pictured (L-R) – Gippsland Lakes Community Health’s Palliative Care team: Selena Van Overdyk, Sarah Patterson, Luke Williams NP, Amanda Crombie, Michael Flynn and Barbara Phillips


We’re celebrating IDAHOBIT Day!

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In Australia, a national sexual health and wellbeing study by Hillier et al (2010) found that 75% of LGBTIQ youth experience some form of discrimination, 61% experience verbal abuse, 19% have been physically bullied, 24% of lesbian, gay, bisexual people experience depression, and 36% of trans Australians experience depression.

The International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia, Intersexism and Transphobia (IDAHOBIT) is held annually on 17 May. This internationally recognised day aims to increase awareness of the violence and discrimination experienced by LGBTIQ people internationally.

The date of May 17 was specifically chosen as it is the anniversary of the date that the World Health Organisation declassified homosexuality as a mental disorder some ten years ago. Impressively, this date has since been established as the single most important date for LGBTIQ communities to mobilise on a worldwide scale; in fact, today, IDAHOBIT is celebrated in more than 130 countries including many where same-sex acts are illegal.

This year, the IDAHOBIT theme is “Justice and Protection for All” which is in recognition of those many places around the world where LGBTIQ people and people with diverse gender identities or expressions continue to experience social violence and injustice.

Local health services and support provider Gippsland Lakes Community Health (GLCH), is proud to recognise IDAHOBIT every year but this year the organisation has decided to extend the event to become week-long, with activities and information about diversity and inclusion being on display to staff, clients and visitors across its five locations in Bairnsdale, Lakes Entrance, Metung, Bruthen and Nowa Nowa. Additionally, at their Bairnsdale and Lakes Entrance sites GLCH will also raise the rainbow flag throughout the week.

GLCH’s Chief Executive Officer Sue Medson OAM says, “IDAHOBIT is a very important day for GLCH to acknowledge. Having been operating throughout East Gippsland since 1975, our organisation is proud to provide safe and inclusive practices for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) people. And with more than 400 employees across our locations, we are also proud to be an inclusive employer.”

GLCH is currently working towards the Rainbow Tick, which is a nationally-recognised accreditation program for organisations that are committed to safe and inclusive practice, and service delivery for LGBTI people,” adds Ms Medson. “If you have any feedback or input as to how the organisation can further increase its diversity and inclusion, we invite you to contact us with your ideas and suggestions.”

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We LOVE our nurses!

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To celebrate 2019 International Nurses Day Gippsland, Lakes Community Health (GLCH) shone the spotlight on the tireless efforts of nurses.

“International Nurses Day is held every year on May 12th, which is the anniversary of Florence Nightingale’s birth. The event provides us with an opportunity to acknowledge the incredible contribution made by our dedicated nurses, who help ensure better health outcomes for our community members,” says Cheryl Bush, Executive Manager of Clinical and Nursing Services at GLCH.

“The nurses at GLCH are professionals with a wealth of skills and knowledge who, collectively, deliver a broad range of expertise,” adds Ms Bush. “They work in all areas of healthcare with a diverse range of clients, in very rewarding although sometimes challenging circumstances, so it’s important to acknowledge and give thanks for the work they do.”

GLCH currently employs around 30 nursing staff, who deliver services from its five community health centres, as well as out in the community and in people’s homes. Many of the nurses have completed post graduate studies or specialised training to enable them to provide advanced nursing services, such as advance care planning, respiratory services, diabetes services, palliative care, dementia, immunisation, lymphoedema, maternal and child health, palliative care, drug and alcohol, assessment and triage, school nurse, women’s health, and wound care.

“Nurses in the community are typically not very good at promoting what they do, which is why the impact of their efforts tend to go unacknowledged; even though they often make a profound difference in the lives of patients and their families” explains Ms Bush. “We encourage everyone in the community to give thanks to a nurse who has taken care of you or a member of your family and let him or her know how much you appreciate their support and expertise.”

GLCH provide nursing services from locations in Lakes Entrance, Bairnsdale, Bruthen, Metung and Nowa Nowa, with some services extending throughout East Gippsland. To find out more contact GLCH.

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Pictured: Some of the GLCH nursing team: Juana Ford, Zenaida Pendergast, Else Philbey, Peta Bassett, Kathy Dear, Selena van Overdyk, Barbara Phillips, Janie Dent, Amanda Crombie, Fiona Veith, Cheryl Bush (Executive Director of Clinical and Nursing), Julian Goss

Child psychologist with a little girl, a child draws

Empowering you to remain your child’s best advocate

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Autism Awareness Month aims to improve the lives of all Australians on the autism spectrum and the families who love them.

Gippsland Lakes Community Health (GLCH) is a registered NDIS provider and supports the mission of Autism Awareness Australia by empowering parents and carers to continue to be the best advocates for their children, through the provision of quality information, resources and programs.

With the support of the Primary Health Care Network, GLCH provides an Autism Diagnostic Support Service in Lakes Entrance, to help children, parents and health professionals with the diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder. In response to a referral from your paediatrician, this service takes a multi-disciplinary team approach, which involves play-based formal observation to gain a comprehensive understanding of the child’s skills and areas of difficulty.

GLCH’s team of qualified, experienced and friendly practitioners provide support and assistance for families who need help navigating challenges related to autism. This expert allied health team includes clinical psychologist Wayne Burgoine, speech pathologists Lyn Nicol and Sarah McKenzie, and occupational therapist, Ainsleigh Whelan.

Sarah has been providing speech therapy to Jonathon – a happy and energetic three-year-old – for around 12 months now.

“We originally came to GLCH for speech therapy, due to his delayed speech,” explains Jonathon’s mum Rebecca “and it was a bit later when he was diagnosed with autism. But since we’ve been coming, his speech has progressed a lot.”

Vicky is mother to a cheeky three-year-old named Seth, who was diagnosed around 1.5 years ago. She says, “We started off in the early intervention program at GLCH due to his delayed speech and limited vocabulary. After around six months he was diagnosed with autism, as well as possible ADHD and sensory issues.”

As a result of his weekly speech pathology sessions with Lyn and fortnightly occupational therapy with Ainsleigh, Seth has also made excellent progress.

“The staff are really good,” adds Vicky. “They inform me of everything I need to know and are always suggesting ways to help both Seth and me.”

Autism Diagnostic Clinic Advertisment [Apr 2019]

Disabilities Team

NDIS boosts local employment opportunities

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The roll-out of the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) is in full swing throughout East Gippsland, which is resulting in the reshaping of existing services for anyone with a disability or a psychosocial condition.

In some instances the NDIS provides increased funding to individuals, enabling greater access to support services. Of course, this also provides significant employment opportunities for local businesses.

Shelley Wormald, Manager of the NDIS team at Gippsland Lakes Community Health (GLCH), said “We’ve been inundated with requests for services. We expected to continue to provide support services to the clients we were already involved with and predicted we may add a few new clients; however, in this first two months of the rollout we’ve actually increased our new clients by around 70 per cent, as well as seen an increase in the amount of funding available to our existing clients.”

The majority of services requested relate to daily living or social and community assistance. Chris Tipa the Executive Manager of Aged and Disability Services Unit at GLCH said, “We’re in a great position now to be able to welcome more people into our organisation. Along with the changes taking place in the Aged Care sector, the NDIS is also changing the way we deliver supports”.

“Unfortunately,” he adds, “we’ve also seen that some of these changes are causing confusion within the community. So here at GLCH we’re committed to making sure that the information and services we provide remain simple and easy to understand.”

GLCH provides a broad range of in-home services to people with a disability, as well as allied health and paediatric therapies, and social support services. There are currently numerous opportunities to join the GLCH team in these areas, with more vacancies being added all the time.

“I’m excited about the opportunities that are being created for East Gippsland – both now and in the future,” said Ms Wormald. “We’re always on the lookout for people who have a passion for helping people, so if that sounds like you then get in touch with us.”

“And of course,” adds Mr Tipa, “if you require services or clarification understanding the NDIS then please contact us as well.”

To find out more contact our disabilities team on 5155 8300 or follow Gippsland Lakes Community Health on Facebook.

Pul Rehab

Breathless? We may be able to help you…

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Do you suffer from breathing difficulties such as chronic bronchitis, emphysema or chronic asthma?

“Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease” (COPD) is an umbrella term used to describe this group of conditions that obstruct airflow in your lungs and make it difficult to breathe.

Unfortunately, diagnosis often occurs in the later stages because of the 1 in 7 Australians aged over 40 years who has COPD, at least 50 percent do not know they have it. This means they’re not taking the early steps to control their symptoms or to slow down the progress of this potentially disabling condition.

Breathlessness and coughs are the key symptoms of COPD, which can both slowly creep up on people. In the early stages, you may find it difficult to run to catch the train or play with young children, but these symptoms can worsen over time to the point where everyday tasks such as hanging out the washing or walking to get the mail feel challenging.

Unfortunately, people who have chronic lung conditions are often less active, which results in reduced fitness and decreased muscle strength. However, with regular exercise, such as walking or cycling for more than two total hours each week, you can improve your health, feel better, keep well, and increase your likelihood of staying out of hospital. Exercise can also enhance the strength and health of your heart, as well as the muscles in your body, arms and legs. It can also help improve your breathing, clear sputum from your lungs, reduce breathlessness during daily tasks, and increase the number of activities that you can do each day.

In addition to exercise, the symptoms of COPD can be controlled, and the ongoing damage can be slowed, through actions such as quitting smoking, better understanding your medicines, maintaining a healthy diet, discussing immunisation options with your doctor, and enrolling in a Pulmonary Rehabilitation program.

“Pulmonary Rehabilitation” is a exercise and education program that teaches you about your lungs, how to exercise, how to undertake activities with less shortness of breath, and how to live better with your lung condition.

GLCH in Lakes Entrance delivers a Pulmonary Rehabilitation program commencing with an initial assessment by an exercise physiologist or physiotherapist. To find out whether this program could help you better manage your breathlessness, contact our Complete Therapies team on 5155 8370.

Seniros Ad [March 2019]

Complete health and support for seniors

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Since 1975 Gippsland Lakes Community Health (GLCH) has been a leading not-for-profit provider of health and wellness services in East Gippsland. Today GLCH continues to help seniors enjoy a healthier, happier and more independent lifestyle through its extensive range of programs and services delivered by a friendly, compassionate and reliable team of local people.

Whether you’re looking for help at home, an exercise program, or socialisation opportunities for yourself or a family member, then GLCH is your local service provider of choice.

A major provider of Home Care Packages, GLCH provides flexible packages of in-home care and support services to people who need assistance to stay living at home. Chief executive officer Sue Medson OAM, says the aged and disability team are available to guide people through the new My Aged Care process and highlight the types of services we offer including domestic assistance, nursing, personal care, physiotherapy, occupational therapy and assistance with meal preparation, transport, shopping, and social outings.”

“Establishing and maintaining social connections is also important for the wellbeing of our ageing community members,” Ms Medson says. “As such, we offer a variety of low-cost, weekly social groups in Bairnsdale and Lakes Entrance and activities that provide physical, intellectual, emotional and social stimulation to participants; which create valuable respite and support opportunities for carers.”

Medical and services covering a range of health conditions and care needs are available from GLCH’s Lakes Entrance, Metung, Bruthen and Nowa Nowa sites; and in the home. The organisation offers a number of specialist nursing services including a Dementia nurse practitioner, who provides a specialist nursing service that helps East Gippsland GP’s and their patients with dementia diagnoses and links them to local resources if required.  “Not all changes in memory and thinking are signs of dementia,” explained Ms Medson. “However, if you’re worried about yourself or someone close to you, we offer a free in-home assessment to explore changes and address any issues.”

A complete range of therapies is also available to help seniors maximise independence and remain active and healthy. GLCH offers flexible services including physiotherapy, podiatry, exercise physiology, occupational therapy, personal trainers and a range of fitness groups that aim to increase mobility, manage chronic illness and pain, and improve strength and fitness.

“The professional team at Gippsland Lakes Community Health are available to support people as they age to remain happy, healthy and valued,” Ms Medson said.  “We’re ready to assist people with their enquiries regarding our services for seniors, call us today or visit for further details.”

IMG_1299-2Pictured: Maude Newman and Margery Cogger catch up at GLCH’s ‘Keep Active’ group in Lakes Entrance. Keep Active is a supervised gym session for people with reduced mobility to help maintain independence, and is just one of the many exercise programs available to East Gippsland seniors.

lentil bog

4 ways to eat healthily on a budget

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Eating healthily need not break the bank. Here are four tips from Chelsea Arceri, our Accredited Practising Dietitian.

Tip 1. Make your own lunches

It does take a little more time and effort, but it means you know exactly what you are eating, so you can make healthier choices and save money at the same time!

Tip 2. Buy your fruit and veggies seasonally

Fruit and vegetables that are in season are always cheaper. You can also buy fruit and veggies that are on special, and then find new and exciting recipes to cook or prepare them. Doing so is a great way to save money, while also helping you to increase the variety of foods you eat. Another tip is to buy your produce in bulk and freeze it. Many fruit and veggies freeze really well and doing this, means you may not need to the pay higher prices to enjoy them when they’re out of season.

Tip 3. Swap cereals for plain rolled oats

Many cereals contain added sugars and high GI carbohydrates, which cause your blood sugars to spike and drop erratically. Rolled oats are not only a great source of fibre, but they also don’t have any added sugars, as well as being cheap to buy. Rolled oats are a perfect breakfast option in the form of porridge or overnight oats. Just remember – don’t load it up with brown sugar! Instead, to sweeten, try using cinnamon, fruit or a teaspoon of honey or maple syrup.

Tip 4. Choose legumes as your protein source

Legumes – such as lentils, beans and chickpeas – are full of vitamins, minerals, protein and fibre, making them a great alternative to meat. As an added bonus, canned or dried legumes are also much cheaper to buy than meat; in fact, you can pick up a can of chickpeas (serving two people) for less than a dollar! Ideally, aim to include around three serves of legumes in your diet each week. A good way to start is by adding a can of brown lentils to your bolognese sauce (see recipe) – by doing so you’ll save yourself a few dollars and help your body thrive at the same time!

Enjoy more legumes with this recipe for Lentil Bolognese

lentil bog

  •  Lentils are a fantastic source of fibre, protein, folate and iron
  • Try to include legumes (lentils, beans, chickpeas) in your meals at least three times a week
  • For a meat-free option, omit the beef
  • For a gluten-free option, swap regular pasta for spiralised zucchini or pulse pasta


  • 2½ tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 300g of lean beef mince (omit to create a meat-free option)
  • 1 brown onion, peeled and coarsely chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, halved
  • 1 carrot, grated
  • 1 zucchini, grated
  • 1 can of brown lentils, drained and rinsed
  • 400g bottle of passata (unseasoned tomato sauce)
  • Sea salt flakes, to season
  • 2 tablespoons of dried oregano
  • 500g packet of spaghetti
  • 2 cups of baby spinach (optional, for an extra serve of veggies)


  1. Heat oil in a large saucepan over a medium-high
  2. If using mince, add it first and cook until brown.
  3. Next add onion, garlic, carrot, zucchini and lentils and cook until softened.
  4. Next add the passata and season with salt* and oregano.
  5. Bring it to a simmer and cook until it reaches your desired flavour and texture.
  6. If it is reducing too quickly, place on the lid; or to reduce faster, remove from heat altogether.
  7. Cook the spaghetti in a large pot of lightly salted water.
  8. Drain and serve.

 *To decrease your salt intake, try a herbed seasoning such as Herbamare; it adds flavour with less sodium

Serves: 4

For more healthy recipes or to learn more about how to eat well and feel great, contact Chelsea on 5155 8370.


We’ve made art therapy affordable

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There’s no need to pay $50, $75 or even $100+ dollars to sort through your thoughts and emotions because Gippsland Lakes Community Health (GLCH) are kicking off their popular Art Therapy program in April – and sessions are just $15!

What is Art Therapy?

Art Therapy is based on the idea that a creative act can be healing as it can help you express hidden emotions; reduce stress, fear, and anxiety; and provide a sense of freedom. Art Therapy can also help you manage physical and emotional problems by enabling you to express your emotions through creative activities. It can help you come to terms with emotional conflicts, increase self-awareness, and express unspoken or even unconscious concerns about issues or stress that may be going on in your life.

The name “Art Therapy” can cause confusion – it’s important to understand these sessions are not art classes where you’ll learn how to paint or draw, and Art Therapy is not about what’s produced. Instead, it’s simply about allowing your thoughts and emotions to flow freely, in a comfortable, non-intimidating, confidential and highly supportive group environment. For this reason, you don’t need to have any artistic talent or ability to participate in Art Therapy.

Over time, the result of this process is that you’ll learn how to better connect with your emotions and gain clarity around your thoughts and behaviours.

Who is Art Therapy for?

Art Therapy is conducted worldwide with great success, particularly among people who are undertaking another form of therapy at the same time.

“Art Therapy is ideal for people who want or need to work through some emotions, but who don’t want to sit and talk about their feelings,” explains Andrea Farley, GLCH’s qualified Art Therapist. “Our program provides people with a safe place to express and release their emotions, which is an environment that is entirely confidential and free from judgment.”

The Art Therapy program will be held in Lakes Entrance every Tuesday from 1pm to 2.30pm for 8 weeks, starting on 23rd April.  To find out more contact our Health Promotion team on 5155 8370.



Primary School children ask for RESPECT

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Last year our Health Promotion team partnered with Save the Children and local primary schools to explore the prevention of family violence in the community.

The grade 5 and 6 students at Tambo Upper Primary School brainstormed ways that they thought would send a clear message to people in their school and the broader community, and the grade six students felt that the word “RESPECT” was a clear message for how people should act towards others – because if you respect everyone, then there would be no family violence.

Students worked creatively to then illustrate the word in a way that would capture people’s attention and convey the message.

The artwork was turned into a banner, which GLCH’s Health Promotion worker Andrea Farley, recently presented to the whole school.