Support group helps those living with arthritis

arthritis support group
Barbara Ballinger and Helen Zigermann are looking forward to the upcoming arthritis pain management workshop.

After founding the Bundaberg Region Arthritis Support Group more than 30 years ago Barbara Ballinger is back at the helm to help people living with the painful condition.

Barbara said she was a new graduate occupational therapist working at Bundaberg Hospital when she was given the job of organising the first meeting of the Arthritis Support Group.

“Once they were established and a committee was formed, I was then no longer part of the group until I returned to Bundaberg to work 10 years ago,” Barbara said.

“Now as I treat a number of clients with arthritis in my private hand therapy clinic, and have some osteoarthritis myself, it was my turn to help lead the group as we started a new chapter.”

That new chapter came about when, last year, Arthritis Queensland changed its structure to no longer include support groups.

“So we became incorporated and now operate independently as the Bundaberg Region Arthritis Support Group.”

The group was given a bursary which this year it will use to run workshops and seminars co-led by Barbara and fellow occupational therapist Helen Zigermann.

“Helen is an occupational therapist who previously worked at Blue Care and who ran the Arthritis Self Help courses as they were known through Arthritis Queensland.

“I have also previously run these. Now with the new research into pain, we have revamped our course and called it Pain Management in Arthritis.

“We are excited to be able to run the first of these next month through the Support Group.”

The pain management workshops, which cost $60 for the full six weeks, will be run once a week and are offered both during the day, and at night.

“Participants will learn ways to manage their arthritis pain including information about medications and natural alternatives, exercise, relaxation and up to date information about pain itself.

“Anyone can attend but it will be focussed on those with arthritis or those living with someone who has arthritis.

“As [the workshops] are run by an occupational therapist they can use their private health if they have cover, DVA gold card, or access a CDM (chronic disease management plan) rebate with a GP referral.”

Residents can also join the Bundaberg Region Arthritis Support Group for just $5 per year, meeting on the last Saturday of each month.

Barbara said in addition to offering social occasions with people in similar situations the group offered other benefits.

“Participants have access to knowledgeable speakers with up to date information, support from others who live with arthritis, up to date information about services available and discount to information forums held by the group.

“We also have an extensive library of resources.

“Our meetings take place at the Centacare Room 3, beside St Mary’s church, on the corner of Barolin and Boston Streets, entry via Boston St.

“The meetings are 9.30–11.30am and include a guest speaker, morning tea, raffles, light exercise to music and socialisation.

“Anyone with an interest in arthritis can attend our meetings.”

To secure one of the limited places in the upcoming October course, or for more information contact Bundaberg Occupational Therapy on 4151 1222, or head to 298 Bourbong St.

Barbara can be contacted on 0438 284 892.

The daytime course on Fridays will be held at the Centacare rooms on the corner of Bourbong and Boston Streets.

Transport can be arranged with Comlink for a small fee.

The Thursday night time course will be run at the Bundaberg Occupational Therapy offices at 298 Bourbong Street.