16 Nov 2017

"Right word. Right Time." New campaign for preventive health conversations

Dr Michelle Ananda-Rajah is an advocate
for proactive conversations with patients
Alfred Health will put health professionals at the forefront of a new campaign to combat the single biggest killer of Australians each year.

Chronic disease is responsible for 90 per cent of deaths in Australia annually – but many of those diseases are largely preventable with lifestyle change.

Alfred Health’s new campaign, Right Word. Right Time. (RWRT), challenges health professionals to talk with their patients about preventing chronic disease and making positive changes towards a healthier lifestyle.

Chronic disease includes cardiovascular diseases, cancers, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and diabetes, with four common behavioural risk factors—smoking, physical inactivity, poor nutrition and harmful use of alcohol.

Dr Michelle Ananda-Rajah, General Physician at Alfred Health and adjunct lecturer in Monash University's Department of Infectious Diseases, said health professionals were the most credible voices for preventive health but the conversations did not occur often enough.

“Chronic disease places a huge burden on individuals, families and our health care system and without intervention, that burden is only going to get worse,” Dr Ananda-Rajah said.

“Sometimes all it takes is an open conversation to encourage patients to make some important changes – whether it’s quitting smoking, cutting back on alcohol, changing their diet or exercising more. Those conversations can be tricky but they need to happen more often. The right word at the right time can be transformative.”

The RWRT campaign site empowers health professionals to start meaningful conversations with their patients that could ultimately save lives. Visit www.rightwordrighttime.org.au for more.

Alfred Health has collaborated with the Victorian State Government to deliver the campaign.

Patient story:

Kyabram local Michael Northcote is currently on the waitlist for bariatric surgery at The Alfred, after he realised he needed to make some major changes to his lifestyle.

At his heaviest, Mr Northcote weighed around 210kg and was consuming more than 5000 calories every day. With support from The Alfred Health Improvement Program (an eight-week education course designed to assist patients to improve their health prior to consideration for bariatric surgery),
Mr Northcote has cut back to a maximum of 2500 calories each day and increased his daily exercise.
With the support of his family – his wife Kristy and two children aged 11 and 18 - Mr Northcote has noticed the significant improvement to his health.

“I lost my dad to a heart attack when he was 41 and I didn’t want my kids to have to go through that – I knew I had to do something,” he said.

“My GP told me I needed to lose weight, I had high blood pressure and was at risk of heart disease. It took me a few years to take on board the seriousness of it. But since I’ve been seeing the team at The Alfred, everyone has been so supportive and I’ve realised I’m not on my own with this.

“I’ve stuck to a plan – changed what I eat, cut back on unhealthy food and soft drinks and started walking more. We’ve done it as a family, it’s a lot easier when you all do it together. We eat more vegetables and fruit and only have the takeaways and fried food occasionally.

“I feel so much better. I’m really looking forward to my surgery and the changes that will come with it.”

Media contact: Leah Humphrys, 0438 187 529 or l.humphrys@alfred.org.au

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