“A lot of what we do collectively is about quality of life,” says Roseanne Baxter from the Singleton Health Hub.
The occupational therapist is one of the four allied health professionals who have established a multi-disciplinary clinic on George Street.
She now practices alongside osteopath Teresa Gray, naturopathic nutritionist Nicole Gray and remedial massage therapist Annie Blair.
Collectively their goal is to ensure locals have better access to their varied and complimentary services.
The term allied health is relatively new and there is still no universally accepted definition.
However, there is general agreement on some basic principles, such as: they are health professionals that are not part of the medical, dental or nursing professions and are tertiary qualified practitioners with specialised expertise in preventing, diagnosing and treating a range of conditions and illnesses.
Allied health practitioners often work within a multidisciplinary health team to provide specialised support for different patient needs.
As a naturopathic nutritionist Nicole says she looks at the role of diet, lifestyle, stress and environmental influences on disease and general and mental health.
“I regard food and its components as medicine and equally as a possible driver of disease. It is now well known and established, that the increase in processed foods, sugar, alcohol and stressors in today’s life are contributors to a myriad of health concerns and a decrease in general and mental wellbeing,” she explains.
Her main areas of interests are learning and behavioral difficulties as well as depression and anxiety.
However she is adept in the management of irritable bowel syndrome, thyroid disorders, nutrient deficiencies, arthritis, chronic fatigue, auto-immune diseases, hormonal irregularities and headaches.
“The treatment of my clients is based on evidence and peer reviewed literature. It involves a thorough investigation of the drivers of their disease, education, dietary and lifestyle intervention an possible supplementation,” she explains.
And, it is this level of professionalism that exists within the allied health industry that experienced osteopath Teresa Gray wants to highlight.
“We are not an airy-fairy group of people,” she says.
Allied health professionals are autonomous practitioners who practice in an evidence-based paradigm.
In Australia, osteopaths are government registered practitioners who complete a minimum of five years training in anatomy, physiology, pathology, general medical diagnosis and osteopathic techniques.
In relation to her area of expertise, Teresa says she takes a holistic approach to treating musculoskeletal disorders.
“We recognise the link between the structure of the body and the way if functions,” she says.
According to osteopathy Australia, using skilled evaluation, diagnosis and a wide range of hands-on techniques they can identify dysfunction in your body. Osteopathic treatment uses techniques such as stretching and massage for general treatment of the soft tissues (muscles, tendons and ligaments) along with mobilisation of specific joints and soft tissues.
She has worked locally for 15 years and was looking to expand her business when Roseanne approached her about joining forces.
“We saw a benefit in a collaborative approach because health is not normally simple. People sometimes need a range of services and often this can be expensive and time-consuming for them to find so we thought there was value for both our consumers and us to all be in one area,” says Roseanne.
As well as treating general musculo-skeletal pain and injury, she has a particular passion for working with people living with the effects of chronic conditions such as Cancer and Lymphoedama.
And to do this in a comprehensive manner, the nationally registered occupational therapist is also an NLPR accredited Lymphoedema practitioner.
“The lymphatic system cops a bit of hammering with cancer treatment so to treat holistically I needed that skill,” she says.
However, no matter what the issue is, getting to the root cause of pain or dysfunction is key to Roseanne’s approach.
“How well we function in our world is related to the ‘fit’ between what we can do and what our environment asks us to do. Physical factors within our home or workplace can sometime play a part in causing or perpetuating problem,” she explains.
“Similarly, our habits at work or at home can influence the onset of pain and can prevent resolution if not properly identified and modified.”
Complementing her colleagues is remedial massage and bowen therapist, Annie Blair.
Bowen is a holistic remedial body technique that works on the soft connective tissue (fascia) of the body and can be used to treat musculoskeletal or related neurological problems including acute sports injuries and chronic or organic conditions. It is gentle and relaxing and does not use forceful manipulation.
Bowen therapy is performed on the superficial and deep fascia. The fascia, or soft tissue, is the part of the connective tissue that envelops, separates and influences every organ and tissue in the body.
The Bowen technique is safe to use on anyone, from newborns to the elderly and for any musculoskeletal or related neuromuscular complaint.
Annie has been in the industry for four years and has a special interest in treating children and teenagers.
“They are essentially little adults so I see some kids who play sport come in with aches and pains if they are over training. I also see teenagers who are a bit stressed at school. They often don’t recognise they are but notice their shoulders and neck are a bit sore so their parents, who are usually already clients of mine, bring them in.”
She says it is nice to introduce children from a young age to a positive experience with massage.
“I have four children of my own so treating them comes naturally,” Annie says.