Monthly groups have launched to help support Queanbeyan residents who have experienced heart conditions.
John Askew, who has experienced a heart issue himself, said aftercare following a heart event was important.
“On the medical side, people come out of hospital after whatever heart issue they had was dealt with there.
“When they’ve been discharged from hospital, they’ve been given some education – what to eat, what not to eat, how to look after themselves,” he said.
“You are still supported by your doctor, but not everyone has someone to talk to – especially someone who has experienced what you’ve experienced,” Mr Askew said.
These meetings aim to change the lack of support some people experience.
They will be held on the third Thursday of each month at the Jerrabomberra Community Centre following their launch in July.
Mr Askew said there would be no pressure on participants to attend.
“The idea is you can come in and basically just talk to people who may have the same or similar experiences,” he said.
“Of course, you don’t have to talk and you can just listen!”
While emotional support will be the focus of the meetings, Mr Askew said there was a possibility for educational aspects to also be included.
“There might be a five- or six-minute presentation on something like diet or exercise.
“Some people might come for one session, others for 10 sessions,” he said.
The Queanbeyan group is the seventh peer support group organised by Heart Support Australia within New South Wales.
Having a group in Queanbeyan would mean less travel time, Mr Askew said.
“The Queanbeyan area hasn’t got a support group, though Canberra has.
“Some people may not want or be able to travel that far, and so something like this makes it more localised for them,” he said.
According to the 2021 Census, 2053 Australians in the Queanbeyan-Palerang region alone live with heart disease.
Mr Askew said it was important people were looked after, even after the hospital discharge papers were signed.
“Everyone will feel different after having had a stent put in or having an operation done on your body.
“Not everyone has someone to talk to, to see how they feel now they’ve left hospital or what they were feeling as they had a heart attack or had an operation.
“These meetings give people the opportunity to share their experiences and how they feel about it,” he said.
Heart Support Australia’s Queanbeyan Peer Support Group will be held on the third Thursday of each month at the Jerrabomberra Community Centre, at 25/31 Jerrabomberra Parkway in Jerrabomberra.