Inside Look: Deadly Feet gets First Nations people on their feet

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A new program is helping Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people manage and improve their foot health.

The Deadly Feet program is a multidisciplinary outreach model improving clinical pathways and outcomes for First Nations patients with foot disease, through early detection of disease, implementation of risk modification plans and treatment of foot conditions.

Patients access podiatry, vascular sonography, and vascular specialist services in a culturally appropriate manner, closer to home and with the support of an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander workforce.

The service, currently available across the northside of Brisbane in clinics within Redcliffe Hospital and Caboolture Moreton Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Community Health Service (MATSICHS) every month, is expected to expand across other regions throughout the state.

Innisfail local Aunty Helenor Rassip sought help from the Metro North Health Better Together Health Van and Deadly Feet team at a community event in Caboolture, after experiencing months of numbness and tingling in her feet.

“It was just by chance; my brother and I were walking through the lakes in Caboolture, and they had the van set-up. I asked them about the program and told them about my situation with my feet. The girls made an appointment for me, and they all worked really well on my feet,” Aunty Helenor said.

Aunty Helenor got the care she needed with surgery booked at The Prince Charles Hospital that week, leading to important intervention and a positive outcome for her long-term health.

Since the successful surgery, Aunty Helenor returns to Brisbane for regular check-ups as she recovers.

Deadly Feet Project Lead, Annette Redhead, said Aunty Helenor’s story highlighted the importance of meeting community members where they are already engaging and feel comfortable.

“The symptoms Aunty Helenor was describing was peripheral vascular disease. Once I flagged this to our vascular surgeon to describe the symptoms, we escalated her care,” Annette said.

“The doctor informed if Aunty Helenor’s disease didn’t have any intervention, she would have been looking at a below the knee amputation within the next six months.

“It highlights the intervention and timely access Aunty Helenor had to advanced vascular sonography, podiatry and a vascular surgeon reviewing her symptoms.”

Aunty Helenor said she was grateful for the care she received from the Deadly Feet Program and encouraged others to keep check of their feet and legs.

“To the community and our Elders if there is something wrong with your feet or your legs get and see about it. That’s what this program’s all about, for your own benefit and your own health. Your health is your wealth,” Aunty Helenor said.

For more information about the program visit https://metronorth.health.qld.gov.au/rbwh/healthcare-services/aboriginal-torres-strait-islander/deadly-feet

You can view Aunty Helenor's story at: https://vimeo.com/892458198/88a1e27045?share=copy