Slave to pain

• Vicki White (left) is Australia’s first chronic health doula. Photo

LIVING with the debilitating and somewhat controversial Lyme’s disease and caring for a terminally ill son, Vicki White struggled to get help from WA’s labyrinthian health system.

The former nurse and special needs education assistant says she was shuffled from service to service to answer her many questions, and the rigmarole soon became part of the problem.

“It was extremely frustrating and and exhausting,” Ms White says.

“When you’re sick, you just don’t have the energy and resources to deal with your condition, let alone juggling the minefield that is the health system.

“People are unaware of the of the resources available, and more often than not, stumble across them by accident or not at all.”

Realising there was a niche, last year Ms White created the company LaurenKate and markets herself as “Australia’s first chronic health doula”.

The name doula has its origins in ancient Greek, where it reportedly meant female slave; in the late 60s it was coined to describe a companion who looked after a birthing woman’s every need.

For Ms White it means being a shoulder to cry on when someone becomes overwhelmed by their chronic illness, which is described as an ailment that lasts more than three months. It can include asthma, diabetes, endometriosis, amputations, arthritis and more.

Ms White will also provide advice on what support services are available and help work on a management plan.

“This is all about empowering people who want to step past the victim mentality and label that living with a chronic health condition can do,” the Glendalough resident says.

Living with ill health can put an enormous strain on relationships. It even affects the Australian economy; the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare estimated in 2014 that it cost $27 billion annually to deal with chronic diseases.

For more information contact Ms White on 0427 779 335 or email

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