Akala is an 8 year old girl born to a proud family in East Arnhem Land. She was afflicted with scabies and covered in skin sores, often crying herself to sleep with the help of sedatives. In addition to the discomfort, she spent more time at the clinic and hospital than she did at school. She was admitted 35 times over the 8 years and given 17 antibiotic injections. Her doctors and nurses were worried about her heart and kidneys. Although her loving mother took her to every clinic appointment and stayed by her side during long hospital visits, the doctors and nurses quickly become suspicious of potential neglect as Akala’s scabies kept coming back. DoCs were called in and once again....
in the land of the stolen generations, a mother was about to be separated from her child.
When our mob met Akala, it wasn’t at the clinic or the hospital. It was at the comfort of her home. Our nurses sat down with her family to talk about Akala’s condition. After spending time with the family, we met her grandmother, who at the time was hiding away in a tent at the side of the house. As it turned out, she had crusted scabies and was unknowingly passing the disease onto her granddaughter. Our nurses went to their house on a daily basis and spent time with Akala’s grandmother. By building a trusted relationship, open communication, treatment and education, her grandmother was free of scabies in just a few short weeks. Four years on, Akala’s family are still happy and healthy. Akala is back at school and her grandmother, a teacher by training, has also returned to work. This story not only demonstrates the importance of our work for the patient but also to close contacts and family of the patient. The Healthy Skin Program aims to replicate this success across the Northern Territory.