‘I’d love if people could start seeing us as ordinary humans’: Advocating for bariatric patients in western Sydney

Sandra Blake, Tracey Carr

In a world where the voices of bariatric patients often go unheard, Tracey Carr, a Bariatric Consultant and Advocate, has emerged to raise awareness for their needs.

Tracey’s personal story and unwavering commitment to promoting equitable healthcare have made a profound impact on those who had the privilege of hearing her speak at a recent Bariatric seminar in Western Sydney Local Health District (WSLHD) at Westmead Hospital, which was hosted by Westmead Physiotherapy, Essential Helpcare and supported by the Westmead Hospital Foundation.

“As a patient group, I believe we are often underrepresented,” Tracey said.

“There can be physical issues in terms of a lack of provision of suitably sized equipment, but also emotional barriers that exist due to discrimination against plus-sized people. I welcome the chance to give my perspective as a bigger person who is trying her best to remain healthy and to make a positive contribution to society.”

Isaac Bishop, Kirra Hennessey, Tracey Carr, Sandra Blake, Todd Bishop

Tracey’s own journey paints a vivid picture of resilience and determination.

“I grew up in a thin and active family and only started gaining weight when I developed severe depression due to a bereavement,” she shared.

“At my heaviest I was 242kg and I now weigh around 210kgs. I work full time, have a partner and a busy social life, and also take care of my home and garden without assistance. I’m keen to lose weight but, like so many of us, I find it very difficult.”

Tracey is determined to stay active and mobile and to take the best care possible of her health.

“We need to focus on what bigger people are able to do and ensure we maintain and enhance their activity levels at every chance.”

Reflecting on her hopes for the future, Tracey said: “I’d love it if people could start seeing us ordinary human beings who need their assistance. We understand that our size can add challenges to your working lives, but with the right equipment provision and training you should have the tools in place to remove any concerns.”

As her message continues to resonate, it is clear that Tracey’s unwavering determination will continue to make a lasting impact, empowering both bariatric patients and healthcare professionals to strive for a more inclusive and compassionate healthcare environment.

Kirra Hennessey, Allied Health Assistant, Physiotherapy, Westmead Hospital, was a co-organiser for the seminar and said: “Our purpose was to share and educate from a bariatric person’s perspective what it’s like when coming into the healthcare system.

“Tracey shared with us how it felt for her personally being a patient at her most vulnerable and this created a space to openly and honestly discuss some of the issues and insights we face from a healthcare perspective when providing care to our plus-size patients.”