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Health Care Homes


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Lucy's Story 
How integration is supporting better health for people from refugee and new arrival backgrounds 

The Adelaide Refugee and New Arrival (ARANAP) program is designed to improve the health of refugees and new arrivals, build capacity of primary health care workers and increase integration of services for these communities. 


Delivered by Australian Refugee Association (ARA) and Survivors of Torture and Trauma Assistance and Rehabilitation Service (STTARS), this program provides refugee health nurses and bilingual, bi-cultural staff to enable individuals and families to better connect with appropriate medical services. 


Across the year, the ARANAP has received over 300 referrals and provided over 700 face to face appointments with culturally and linguistically diverse people in need. Whilst these figures are impressive, the success of the ARANAP is best captured by the experiences and stories of those people who have been supported by the program – like Lucy’s* below: 

Lucy, a 35 year old Syrian woman, arrived in Australia at the end of 2016 with her husband and 4 children. Lucy was referred in to the ARANAP due to difficulty finding a ‘good’ GP and for dental issues. It was found that Lucy was suffering from persistent headaches, iron deficiency, chest pain and sinus issues and had visited multiple different GPs to try and find relief. Across various appointments, many of which had not utilised interpreters, Lucy had received a myriad of different explanations for her illnesses. Lucy tried to seek out a GP who spoke her language.  “I travel one hour by bus to see this particular GP but the doctor is always in a hurry, does not give me enough time to talk about my health.”

Lucy was prescribed migraine medication (Eletriptan), to be taken ‘prn’ (as required). However, she was self-administering daily and stated that this medication was causing a range of side effects such as chest pain and tightness, pain radiating along the arm, limb weakness, and shortness of breath. She had continued to take Eletriptan as it was the only medication helping with her migraines. Due to these symptoms, Lucy was admitted to hospital on several occasions and required cardiac investigation.


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Refugee Health Nurses

Through the ARANAP program Lucy was connected in with a Refugee Health Nurse who was able to assist with coordinating Lucy’s care and attend appointments with her. Lucy’s nurse was able to support a more holistic approach to Lucy’s health: advocating for a medication review, chronic disease screening and cervical screening, as well as facilitating discussion of Lucy’s sinus problems between Lucy and the GP and providing nutritional and exercise advice. Lucy was also linked to an ARANAP bilingual worker who supported and advocated for her and her family to access appropriate dental services. 

Lucy now has better understanding of her medication and how to manage her health. Since ARANAP, Lucy has not required further emergency ambulance call outs.


The ARANAP will be expanded in 2019-20 to include a health literacy component to further support people from refugee and new arrival backgrounds in understanding their health conditions and the Australian health system.


*parts of this story have been edited to preserve anonymity


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