500lives2Asthma Foundation Queensland have shown their determination to help some of the city’s most vulnerable people, providing asthma education and support to Brisbane’s homeless.

The Foundation identified the need for intervention after viewing data from the 500 Lives 500 Homes campaign in 2014.

The campaign, led by Micah Projects Inc, surveyed 1182 people showing asthma was a significant issue amongst the homeless and vulnerably housed.

The survey found that asthma affected 33% of participants. This is more than three times the national average of 10%.

When poorly managed, asthma can lead to hospitalisation and takes the life of almost 400 Australians each year.

Survey participants included people who were sleeping rough, living in boarding houses, motels and caravan parks and temporary supported accommodation.

The survey covered homeless adults, families and young people. Asthma rates were significantly higher than the national average across all demographics.

In response to the problem, Asthma Foundation Queensland partnered with Micah Projects to deliver asthma education workshops to their staff, as well as residents of Brisbane Common Ground, a supported accommodation unit for people experiencing homelessness.

Ashley Walton from Asthma Foundation Queensland delivered the workshops; “I was surprised how open people were in talking about their personal experiences with asthma,” she said.

Many participants had poorly controlled asthma and said they use reliever medications to cope with symptoms, not preventer medications which are more effective at reducing the risk of an asthma attack.

“Working with Micah Projects enabled us to provide asthma education, resources and support to the homeless community. We know from people who’ve taken part that the workshops are making a difference and we would love to continue helping people with asthma who are even more at risk due to homelessness or an unstable housing situation,” said Ashley.

The workshops teach asthma first aid as well as asthma management. Participants also receive a free spacer, a device used with an inhaler to make delivery of medication more effective and reduce side effects.

For those taking part in the workshops, access to healthcare and medication are significant barriers to good asthma management.

Registered nurse, Melinda Jesudason, worked on the program with Ashley.

She said, “Managing a chronic health condition can be fraught with problems for people who experience homelessness and the support of Asthma Foundation Queensland is greatly valuable to us and the people we work with.”

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