“A feminist health centre of excellence enabling Central Coast women to access holistic health care”
Central Coast Community Women’s Health Centre is a service by women for women. With the desire to empower women, our service provides a safe platform through which all women’s voices and experiences can be heard, and their needs met. CCCWHC recognises how the gendered nature of society shapes the social, economic, cultural, political and spiritual experiences of girls and women; and how these experiences in turn impact their physical and psychological wellbeing.
The CCCWHC acknowledges the impact of social, cultural, political and spiritual factors that construct a female gender role in society that is marked by inequality, disempowerment, exploitation and violence. The CCCWHC provides a counselling service which recognises how these external influences on women have a profound psychological impact. Counsellors at the CCCWHC take a trauma-based approach: the goal is to help women recognise what has happened to them, and to take control of what they can- their recovery. This trauma-based approach is very important, as it recognises women’s internal struggles as being attributed to an external source; thus providing women with the opportunity to regain control over their own lives, by relinquishing inner-doubt. Counselling is face-to-face, short to medium term counselling, with phone/ visit counselling available in crisis situations. Counsellors also provide advocacy and support for women. Women who have attended the counselling service have expressed:
- I was greatly supported in the time of tremendous grief and loss. The support I received enabled me to push through and function under times of great stress. The counselling services are outstanding.
- The service benefitted me because I was able to gain reassurance, getting to the bottom of old problems; I was given encouragement and support with my health on an ongoing basis.
- I am able to more forward thinking clearly, more positively with self-awareness. I really found the staff professional and understanding with how I think and this has helped me get though life better. I have become better connected and understand myself better.
- I was helped through a domestic violence crisis. I feel I know how to use a safety plan at home. I feel better within myself and more confident. This supportive service is much needed for me and other Women on the Central Coast. Without support networks raising children is difficult and I can’t thank Women’s Health enough.
- Very pleased with the reliable and helpful service. I gained clarity, calmness and reflection and an improved ability to plan for the future
Medical Services: GP clinic
The CCCWHC runs a specialist women’s health GP clinic. We work with women and girls aged 12 years and over. Taking a preventative or early-intervention approach, GP’s see patients for a range of gender-specific health issues including: sexual and gynaecological health, pap smears, breast checks, sexually transmitted infections, pregnancy, fertility and contraception, menopause, depression and anxiety, eating disorders, and weight issues and nutrition. CCCWHC’s general practitioners are women, and provide a comfortable, safe environment to discuss and treat issues that may cause embarrassment, or be mistreated and disregarded in a mixed-gender health environment. Comments from users of our GP service:
- Staff are professional and knowledgeable, courteous and considerate. I feel fortunate to have had the opportunity to participate in the programs. I have had an improvement in all areas of my health.
- Going and seeing my doctors at Women’s Health helped me with my mental health problems. I felt understood and the professionalism was outstanding. I actually enjoy coming to my doctors’ appointments now. I can’t thank you Women’s Health enough.
- I benefited from learning about the conditions relative to my problems; I have more confidence and better health. Friendly, supportive, informative environment.
- It changed my whole life, I wouldn’t have made it without the support of Women’s Health. I love coming here, so friendly and understanding.
- I have found this service invaluable, it has helped me extremely, such a fantastic place, calm and friendly.
- I love that a women’s place like this exists. My health and wellbeing has improved so much.
- I was treated as a person, not as a number, but treated in a caring manner. I think Wyoming Women’s Health centre is a wonderful service. I am grateful for the help and understanding I have received.
Medical Services: The Pelvic Floor Chair Program (PROGRAM CURRENTLY SUSPENDED)
The Wyoming branch of CCCWHC is equipped with a ‘pelvic floor chair’, designed to strengthen and rebuild the pelvic floor muscles of women experiencing incontinence. Incontinence affects 37% of women overall, and 50% of women aged 45-54 (Egan 2014). The weakening of the pelvic floor muscles that causes incontinence is often due to pregnancy (pre and post-natal), menopause or urinary tract infections. The impact of incontinence is both physical and psychological in nature, with many women reporting that they no longer feel comfortable playing sport and being active, or even leaving the house for extended periods of time. Not only does this endanger the physical wellbeing of women, who (without activity) are at greater risk of obesity and other health-related problems, it also strips women of confidence and control over their own bodies. The CCCWHC’s pelvic floor chair program is designed to improve the physical and mental wellbeing of women, and to encourage female empowerment and confidence. Pelvis Floor Chair feedback has included:
- I was so excited when I heard about the program but I was worried that I wouldn’t get in because I was younger (30s) and there may have been needier candidates than me. I was embarrassed that since having a baby my pelvic floor was failing every time I coughed or played sport. Nobody my age seemed to have this problem! It has been fantastic. I cannot believe the difference. I am now not leaking at all when playing sport. Thank you for considering me for this program.
- Thank you so much for the opportunity. It helps to feel normal in life again and to feel needed. I feel so much stronger in that area. I am so grateful to be part of the program. Thank you again.
- I am amazed at how much the chair has healed me. I don’t have to think about going to the toilet. When I go to the shops I don’t have to run to the toilet as soon as I get there.
- The commitment has been worth it. I have experienced an increase in self-esteem as the use of the pelvic floor chair has doubled my muscle control. It has been about feeling in control and knowing that part of my body has not been forgotten. I have really appreciated the caring service by all of the staff.
- First of all I feel blessed that the chair is at Wyoming. I now only wear a pad if I am out all day. I used to wear one every day. I don’t get up at night any more. I still leak a little if I really laugh, but I used to lose complete control. The staff are wonderful. Thank you for all your time and interest in me as a person as well as a patient.
- From my very first treatment, I noticed a marked improvement in my bladder control. I can now walk for an hour without feeling the need to stop and go to the toilet. Instead of always feeling like urine was leaking and never really feeling like I had completely emptied my bladder, I now don’t even think about it. I cannot express my thanks for the pelvic floor chair giving me back some control over my life. The staff have been wonderful.
- Thank you for your positive and friendly support and your concern over my general wellbeing- not just the necessary things. I am well pleased with the improvement that the chair has given me, and hope that the exercise will help to maintain more nights of slumber.
- Thank you so much for this opportunity. It has helped me in so many ways. The pelvic floor treatment has been great. I have noticed many improvements and with exercise on my part, many more in the future. Well worth making the commitment to do. Also just coming to the centre each week being greeted with genuine care and concern was rewarding in itself as it made you feel special for that time. It was great time to relax as well- it gave you great reflecting time.
- Thank you to all the medical staff for being a source of comfort through my ‘chair’ experience. I don’t fully understand how it works, but it does. Having more confidence to go out is great. Not waking up so often throughout the night is also a big plus. But even if there was no improvement, having the time out for myself and being able to discuss women’s things with someone of the same sex can’t be replaced. Your kindness was very much appreciated.
- Thank you for his non-surgical solution to an embarrassing, confidence zapping and lifestyle hindering problem. I am now feeling confident and enjoying all aspects of my life again. Many thanks to the doctors and staff for their caring and professionalism.
- Thank you for this great program. It’s wonderful to feel confident again. This is a great way to help the pelvic floor without surgery.
- Thank you for giving me the opportunity to benefit from this chair. It has improved my pelvic floor muscles significantly. As a mother of 7 children and still very active in sport, I have noticed the benefits dramatically.
- I’m now taking control of my bladder instead of it controlling me! I still have sudden ‘urges’ but not nearly as frequently. Thank God a chair like this exists for people like me. I’ve been able to go out for hours at a time and not need to rush to the toilet after every glass of liquid. Thanks to all the staff for being so friendly and understanding.
- The program has worked for me. I don’t have to get up during the night, I feel more confident to sneeze or cough without ramifications, and I know my score has improved out of sight. Thanks very much.
- I kick myself that I waited so long to talk about my very uncomfortable leakage. If only I had done the very simple exercises at the first sign of leaking. I may not have had such a problem. It sounds ridiculous, but I love the chair. My muscles are definitely stronger than before.
- Thank you for caring. The process of the chair was daunting and I felt embarrassed. I have to tell you I have felt nothing but unconditional support- emotionally and physically, my life in every area has changed, and I am feeling very confident about my body and myself. Past abuse has affected me, but my time here has been so positive that I am feeling ok about that. Thank you again. Life changing.
- My pelvic floor has improved greatly, the knowledge I have learned will help me maintain that area of my body. I am sleeping better and thinking clearer because of treatment. I could not have been looked after by staff in a better way, Very professional and helpful, there are many options available and I found any questions were answered in depth.
- Thank you for providing the opportunity to participate in such a worthwhile program. You are all part of a wonderful team and I am genuinely grateful for the care and professionalism exhibited at all times. From the warmth of the welcome, to the ongoing high quality service and advice, this is an exemplary program. I have benefitted greatly from the program and have developed muscle control and overall confidence. It’s terrific to be able to manage the previous urgency, and to travel to Sydney and beyond without the continual search for a bathroom! Thank you again for providing such a supportive environment for women on the Central Coast.
- The pelvic floor programme has had such a positive impact on my life. I am a 30 year old woman who gave birth to my first child 9 months ago. From the time I gave birth up until 6 weeks ago, I suffered from severe incontinence. I found myself becoming house bound, anxious and depressed, despite the love and joy I was experiencing as a new mum. I would wet myself around the house, out walking, and even in the middle of the shops. I thought incontinence was an ‘old persons’ problem. This program has allowed me to regain not only my pelvic floor strength, bladder control, and confidence, but it has made me an active, vibrant, happy and stress free young woman again. Thank you again.
Massage and Acupuncture
CCCWHC offers massage and acupuncture services to promote natural healing of mind and body health. Massage therapy involves the physical release of tension in the body through touch. It has been shown to decrease stress, anxiety and fatigue; and increase energy levels, concentration, circulation and sleep quality. Specifically, massage can alleviate back-pain, assist with labour for expectant mothers, enhance immunity, relax muscles and relieve migraine pain. Acupuncture involves the insertion of needles into targeted points along the body’s meridian, where they will stimulate specific nerves. It is based on the traditional Chinese belief that disease is caused by disruptions to the body’s flow of energy. Acupuncture is therefore thought to work because it opens up neurohormonal pathways in the body. It plays a role in pain relief, treatment of chronic diseases or ailments, and prevention against illness. CCCWHC offers acupuncture treatment with women’s specific needs in mind: it can reduce menstrual problems and menopausal symptoms, aid fertility, help with morning sickness, and help with prolapse of the uterus or bladder. Moreover, acupuncture helps treat psychological conditions such as depression, anxiety and addiction, neurological conditions such as headaches and migraines, respiratory disorders, digestive system problems, skin and eye conditions, and musculoskeletal disorders.
Feedback from the massage service has included:
- Relaxing and therapeutic, healing my aches and pains
- Improved overall wellbeing
- Has been very beneficial for my neck and back pain
- Massage challenges my anxiety and assist with relaxation
- Helps me unwind from my stressful life
Feedback from the acupuncture service has included:
- I am growing in energy and balance
- Better mental and physical health
- Acupuncture makes such a difference to my functioning and quality of life
- I really value this service at the centre
- Menopause symptoms are much improved and sciatica is almost resolved
- More confidence in self ability and less use of aids. Sleep patterns are better.
Group Workshops and Information Services
The CCCWHC offers a mix of social, self-development and therapeutic groups delivered in workshops or courses of up to 10 weeks. Group workshops create a safe environment, where women are also encouraged to create a social support network. Feedback from group attendees has included:
- I’ve been wanting to email you for quite some time to thank you for facilitating the Breaking Free group at Woy Woy CCCWHC. I was finding many things challenging during that time due to ongoing post-separation abuse and I am deeply grateful for your support during that time. Also it was nice to have a group of women who I can share experiences with. The experiences of other women brought tears to my eye as I often could empathise with their experiences. There are not many people who can comprehend the complexity of DV and its impacts on woman. It was so wonderful to have your support
- Workshops I found helpful, informative and well thought out. I found the experience to be relaxing, interactive and very useful.
- Great Group Workshop, inspiring and I loved the process of working on vision board, helped me gain clarity and set goals for the future. Very approachable facilitator, easy to participate, belonging environment.
- I’ve realised that my life isn’t that bad thanks to “looking in your personal rea vision mirror” I learnt to be more positive and remember again I have a good life. It made me realise I am not on my own. I am happier, depression seems easier to shake off and because of this program I will recommend the centre to all women who need help with mental health issues.
- I have learned to value myself more. My relationship with myself have improved and my son has benefitted. This group has been really relevant for my needs at the present time.
- I met other women and learned new skills, keep up these lovely mornings, it’s always a delight to visit the Centre, always relaxed and informative.
- I attended the Wrap with Love group and I loved the companionship. Many women over the years attend and like me have depression and other illness; with “knitting for the needy” I felt purposeful. Most enjoyable social group.
- Excellent teaching, empathy and knowledge. I have more confidence, assertiveness, courage and positive actions and decisions. This course is excellent and I enjoyed every moment.
- I attended the self-esteem workshop at Woy Woy. It changed me and possibly saved me from a very difficult time in my life. I learnt that there are people that care, people in similar situations. I learnt practical information and valued the small gift given out.
- I attended the ‘It’s okay to be me’ workshop. I feel better about my life and am more grateful for the loved ones I have. I am trying to use these strategies in everyday life, from day to day.
- In many ways through exercise and yoga I have learnt to stay in the moment and be mindful. I have learnt to take time out for myself and change my attitudes. Women’s Health have a caring approach and I am grateful for workshops such as Yoga.
- Every aspect of this program has been addressed professionally and I do hope this program continues as it has helped me and it will help many other women. The results were terrific.
Central Coast Community Women’s Health Centre recognises that many of its clients are mothers with young children. In an effort to increase accessibility to all women, CCCWHC therefore provides a childcare service for children whilst their mother/ carer attends her counselling, clinic, or group appointment.
- I am able to attend the course as childcare was provided. The Childcare workers are helpful and provide me with information on my child and resources.
- I am able to attend counselling without my children present. The Childcare workers are friendly and welcoming and my children love coming here.
- With childcare provided I am able to attend the activities which are available. The Childcare workers are very welcoming and friendly. They offer information on children’s issues and workshops that are on. My children love coming here.
- I am able to attend the doctors for women’s issues without my children present. The Childcare workers are friendly and always greet me. I feel welcome and my child is happy and doesn’t want to leave.