It is not often that Dorset's Harriet Beattie is left speechless, but that is exactly what happened when she was announced as the recipient of St.LukesHealth Healthier Communities Award.
With a keen interest in health, Harriet has used her skills to promote positive lifestyle habits to those living with cardiovascular and chronic obstructive pulmonary diseases.
1. Congratulations on being named the St.LukesHealth Healthier Communities Award recipient. Tell us how you felt when your name was called out?
St.LukesHealth caught up with Harriet to talk about the award and her work in the North-East.
Thank you so much, it is such an honour to be the recipient of the award. I was so excited and quite overwhelmed to be honest when I heard my name called out. It is quite unlike me to be speechless but sure enough I was.
It has been a wonderful experience to be part of the Tasmanian Young Achievers program and be the award recipient. I am very lucky and grateful to have the opportunity to help people within my community improve their health.
2. What attracted you to working in the health field?
I have always been interested in health personally with my own sporting endeavours so that is what sparked the desire to study health science at the University of Tasmania.
Growing up I saw some close and distant family members become quite unwell because of poor lifestyle choices or due to being misinformed through different media channels. There is a lot of dangerous and misleading information that is easily accessible ranging from excessive and extreme nutrition information to extreme exercise recommendations.
Through my work, I have been able to guide and educate people of all ages, with or without medical conditions to improve their health and feel their very best. Seeing people live life to the best it can be for them is what keeps me motivated to continue working in the health field.
3. Tell us about your work with the Dorset community and the RFDS?
My work with the Dorset community is quite varied. We have a local gym, Dorset Flex 24/7, that was opened by two local men nearly four years ago.
This enabled me to begin my personal training (PT) business. I had clients ranging from 15 to 65 years old with some wanting to maintain and improve their strength as they age so that they can be as independent as possible, and others wanting to improve strength, flexibility and endurance for sports whilst others were beginning their weight-loss journey.
In-between 1:1 sessions, I would run small group sessions or classes ranging from spin, yoga/core, strength and strength for women classes. The strength for women class has been amazing helping women gain confidence in the gym. My PT work led me to my position at the Royal Flying Doctors Service (RFDS) with my title becoming Physical and Rural Health worker for Dorset.
My role for the RFDS was tailored towards those with medical conditions, specifically cardiovascular disease (CVD), chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), dementia or mental health. I provided exercise programs aimed towards clients being able to better manage their chronic health condition(s) and provided guidance and education around improving lifestyle behaviours to enable living and enjoying life to the best they can.
I have been fortunate enough to be part of the team at the RFDS to develop and deliver group and 1:1 phase two cardiac and pulmonary rehabilitation. This has had an incredible positive impact on so many within the community who might otherwise not have accessed or participated in such a necessary service due to transport and cost limitations.
4. What is your biggest career highlight to date?
Honestly it is tough to pick just one so I will mention a couple. Firstly, going right back to the start of my career completing my studies at UTAS. I am the first person in my family to go to university and without completing my degree I would not have been so fortunate to have the career I do now.
Being nominated as a Tasmanian Young Achiever and then going on to be the award recipient of the St.LukesHealth Healthier Community Award is another huge career highlight for me. I have always thought of myself as a country girl who loves helping people be and feel their best, being recognised for that is the best!
Lastly, probably the biggest career highlight for me is connecting people within the community. Many clients have attended the CVD and Pulmonary rehab group sessions and have gone on to continue supporting each other, exercising together after completing the 12-week program. It doesn't get much better!
5. Can you share a personal story of someone you have assisted in their health journey?
Local farmer Ken is known for being the life of the party. Over the years, he probably didn’t make the best lifestyle choices and possibly a few other factors had caught up to him when he had a heart attack.
Luckily he was treated by medical staff in time and after surgery and rest he was referred to the cardiac and pulmonary rehab program I deliver. Ken had opted not to participate in the rehab program originally as he had thought he would have to drive to Launceston twice a week.
However, when the cardiac nurse explained the RFDS deliver the program remotely he was eager to participate. Upon meeting Ken, it was evident he was still very much the life of the party, such a larrikin.
Ken was one of the most attentive clients I have had the pleasure of helping, he managed to change many lifestyle factors that were having negative impacts on his health. By the end of the 12 weeks, he asked if there was a way that he could continue the program.
Due to guidelines around the rehab program unfortunately I didn't have the capacity to do that, so I offered to donate my time once a week. Ken was over the moon and then announced that he had a group of friends interested in joining him.
The group range from people aged 60 to 85 years and they are so much fun, so enthusiastic. Members of the gym also enjoy seeing the group exercising and I think it has been so important for members to see that age is just a number and we can exercise and do anything throughout our life. You're never too old to start.
Most of the participants in this group had never stepped foot in a gym! Because I donated my time to the group, to say thank you the group donated a defibrillator to the gym. I still meet the group to this day once a week (I did have a little break due to having my first baby in June). They are the best!
6. Has it been of benefit living in the community that you work? Do you find it helps keep your clients more accountable?
I think there has been benefits to living in the community that I work. The main benefit I see is that they trust me. Trust is a huge player when it comes to someone needing guidance and support around improving or better managing their health.
It is such a personal journey, trust has to be the foundation for the clients to be successful. Accountability is something that can be developed and improved upon over time, trust has to be there right from the beginning. Many clients have expressed to me that they're pleased to be able to have the service delivered by a local as they feel more comfortable.
7. What do you believe are some of the health challenges for Tasmania? What do you think can help make an impact in these areas?
I believe some of the health challenges for Tasmania stem from poor lifestyle choices these include, poor diet, inactivity, living remotely and isolation. These factors are all contributors to poor physical and mental health.
I think we can help make an impact in these areas by ensuring continuity with health services. Something as simple as having access to a regular GP can be all the encouragement someone needs to have regular check-ups, ultimately decreasing the strain on emergency services/hospitals.
We need better access to fresh, locally grown produce, less access to fast foods, more opportunities for safe and inclusive exercise and easily accessible support and education around healthy living. Keeping it simple. Living healthy doesn't need to be complicated, eat well, move more and laugh lots.
8. What do you think Tasmanians can do differently to look after their health?
I think if Tasmanians can just bring it back to the basics - eat well, move more and laugh lots rather than over complicating it, overall health would improve immensely. Keeping it simple also decreases stress.
9. What do you hope to achieve by being the recipient of this award?
By being the recipient of this award, I hope to continue my work within the Dorset community and further my education within the health field. My goal is to continue to motivate, support and inspire people of all ages within the Dorset community to continue to live healthy lifestyles.
10. Do you have anything else you would like to add?
Thank you again to St.LukesHealth for sponsoring the Healthier Communities Award at the Tasmanian Young Achiever Awards. It is a fantastic program to be part of, showcasing the amazing work many young people are delivering around the state.