Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis, collectively known as inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), affects almost 25,000 people in New South Wales.
Thanks to a $10,000 grant from nib foundation, Crohn's & Colitis Australia (CCA), will roll out forums in Newcastle and across New South Wales to address what is a growing demand for support and information for those with the diseases and their families.
To be held at John Hunter Hospital, the Hunter forum aims to provide patients with the opportunity to participate in an informative, educational forum in a safe learning environment.
CCA Chief Executive Officer, Francesca Manglaviti, said that these chronic illnesses can be diagnosed at any age, although most commonly among people aged between 15 to 35 years.
“People living with IBD have an ongoing need for up-to-date information and a better understanding of their diagnosis and management of the condition,” Ms Manglaviti said.
“Greater knowledge enables not only patients, but also carers and families, to feel better equipped to manage the various challenges the disease presents every day.
“With nib foundation’s funding we are able to conduct these IBD forums which provide the latest information and developments regarding disease management. Equally important though, it connects people living with IBD enabling them to share their experiences and develop peer-to-peer support networks,” she added.
Newcastle’s Liz Fradgley understands the challenges faced by those living with IBD when it comes to receiving support and education. Liz was diagnosed with the illness in 2009 and says that until now there has been little opportunity for those in the Hunter to access such services.
“When I was first diagnosed there wasn’t much local support available which made it harder to face the challenges of my illness, however, with the help of CCA I now facilitate the Newcastle area support group which provides a friendly environment for people to get practical information from those with similar experiences,” Ms Fradgley said.
“The new forums are a fantastic way for local people living with IBD to learn more about their illness as well as meet other people who they can share their good and bad days with,” she added.
nib foundation Chairman, Keith Lynch, said the foundation is delighted to provide the funding support that will help fill the service and information gaps for people living with these illnesses in both the Hunter and across the state.
“There are many groups across Australia, such as Crohn's and Colitis Australia, that are working hard to meet service demands but are limited purely by funding,” Mr Lynch said.
“It gives us great pleasure to provide this grant to Crohn's & Colitis Australia that will help them to provide better support services and information to local residents.”