THEY might be all about healthy living but they don't mind a bit of healthy competition as well!
Staff from Tūranga Health and Three Rivers Medical in November donned aprons and took up spatulas to take part in their semi-annual Cook-Off.
This year, the challenge was to cook tasty skewered kebabs on the barbecue, using ingredients from chicken, beef and vegetables to tofu or haloumi cheese, and (uncooked) fruits.
The playing field may, at times, have been a little uneven . . . Tūranga Health unleashed an early advantage with their appetiser of fresh kinaand oysters served with homemade rēwena bread.
However, Three Rivers' succulent Whangara Farms flagship beef was eventually too good for Turanga Health's seafood bonanza, and the medical team took away the win.
“We wouldn't say they cheated . . . but their appetisers were a force to be reckoned with,” laughed Three Rivers co-owner and education co-ordinator Dr Fergus Aitcheson.
Dr Aitcheson and Turanga Health events and programmes co-ordinator Dallas Poi agreed that, while the healthy competition between both organisations is well received by staff members, the atmosphere and message on the day is what sings true: “Healthy kai and nutrition can be fun and whanau can get a lot of enjoyment out of cooking together.”
And as Tūranga Health events and programmes co-ordinator Dallas Poi pointed out, “nobody can cheat anyway because there aren't any rules!”
Three Rivers chief executive and co-owner Ingrid Collins says that as well as encouraging healthy eating among whānau and service users, the cook-off is a chance for the two organisations to celebrate their ongoing relationship.
“We've worked well together since we launched in 2012 and to this day Tūranga Health is represented at our doctors' peer review meetings where they share input and ideas,” she said. “It's an important way to encourage healthy living beyond the doctors' rooms.”
For the service users who went along for the big Cook-Off, their involvement went further than simply getting a tasty, healthy feed.
As well as being able to vote for the grand winners of the 2018 Cook-Off between the two organisations, they also went into the draw to win the day's prize of a Gascraft barbeque (taken home by Eddie Evans).
And service users were questioned about their own secret food tricks, which may come into play for next year's competition.
STELLA Rihari was busy studying towards a planned career as a social worker when everything changed.
“As I got closer to completing my degree I had two placements with Tūranga Health's mental health team,” she says.
“It wasn't an area of practice I’d considered but I found the opportunity to help give disadvantaged people a voice to be deeply rewarding. When a position came up I jumped at it.”
Stella still gets to use her degree.
“There's a lot of crossover from social work and the focus on biculturalism has been really useful. I'd long felt passionate about Māori health and this is such an important part of that.”
As a kaiāwhina in Tūranga Health's busy mental health team, the former teacher gets out and about helping whānau according to needs identified in their specially-tailored support plan.
“We're there for support if they need to be hospitalised, but it’s mainly about helping in their day-to-day lives, whether that be getting to a doctor's appointment or doing their shopping.”
“Some of our whānau are more independent than others but all seem to value just knowing that we care,” she says.
“They know that we are there, that we’ll work alongside them doing everything we can to help them lead independent, meaningful lives.”
Turanga Health is hitting the great outdoors with it’s rohe-wide physical activity and health programme Tū Pakari.
For the city-based sessions the Tūranga Health team has devised activities that can be done at stunning locations around town.
“We love getting out there but if it's raining we just do the session at the Tūranga Health gym,” says physical activity kaiawhina Shane Luke.
Town-based session locations include Titirangi Kaiti Hill, Waiweherua (the meeting of the three rivers), Elgin’s Blackpool Park, and Oneroa (Midway Beach).
And since the sessions are suitable for all, Luke hopes whānau will bring their young ones along for the ride.
Tū Pakari sessions in rural areas continue 6pm on Tuesdays at Patutahi Hall (with Bernie Semau), Muriwai Marae (with Daiminn Kemp) and Mangatu Marae (with Luke Bradley); Wednesdays (Te Karaka Sports Ground with Hotorene Brown); and Thursdays (Patutahi Hall with Daiminn Kemp).
Turanga Health service delivery manager Dwayne Tamatea says it's great to whanau getting out and about to exercise .
“We were stoked to see the numbers of people at the Te Karaka and Muriwai sessions increasing earlier this year, and we’re hoping everyone returns and brings a friend or whānau member for the summer sessions.”
THE team at Tūranga Health know they are making a difference – they see good results every day – but now they’re drilling deep to provide evidence that what they do works, and why.
Tūranga Health was this year one of six primary health providers from around the country chosen to be a part of the Health Quality and Safety Commission's best practice initiative, Whakakotahi.
The only iwi health provider in the bunch, Tūranga Health is using the opportunity to zoom in on its Tū Mahi programme, where on-the-job health checks are offered to workplaces to improve and prevent health issues.
“For us, Whakakotahi is not about introducing something new, it is about achieving quality assurance by really looking close and understanding the essence of what we are here to do,” says Tūranga Health chief executive Reweti Ropiha.
“What we're using is a powerful tool of discipline that not only ensures our clients are getting the best of the best, but also future-proofs Tūranga a Health as a high-quality provider of primary care.”
With support from Commission Advisor Jane Cullen, the Gisborne initiative has been driven by the Tūranga Health team and their Tūranga Mahi Workplace Wellness programme for the research phase of Whakakotahi.
The Tū Mahi Workplace Wellness programme offers a range of services including heart checks, flu vaccinations, smoking cessation and other wrap around services all year round to primary industry workers.
“What we saw, was that some whānau could be better served if we extended our consults into the home,” says team member Dallas Poi.
“So, during a workplace visit our team might identify employees, for example, with a potential heart problem. Following up by visiting the person at home means we can also offer wrap-around services they may not have had access to had we not taken that extra step.”
It might include services like a Healthy Homes assessment, or registration with a lifestyle programme or, if there are young ones in the home, support from the Tamariki Ora Well Child programme.
“What we have identified is that getting the whānau involved means there is a better chance of success in achieving a good health outcome,” says Dallas Poi.
As an integral part of the Whakakotahi project team, Ms Poi works closely with the nurses doing follow ups on each home visit to assess its effect and ensure that the kaupapa is applied and is based on robust evidence.
“But at this stage we are already optimistic that home visits will become standard, so we can improve on what is already a successful workplace programme,” she says.
The Health Quality and Safety Commission has invited Tūranga Health along as its co-presenter at next year's National Rural Health Conference.
And that dovetails nicely with Mr Ropiha's ambition to see Tūranga Health excel in providing services that can be adapted by health providers nationwide.
“Our aim is to make sure that there is real, evidence-based rigour to all of our programmes to ensure they are sustainable,” he says.
“We are in this for the long term, and that's why it was important for us to really zoom in and look closely at the what, the why and the how of everything we do.”
In te reo Maori the word “whakakotahi” literally means unity and under the initiative of that name Turanga Health has combined with the Health Quality and Safety Commission to ensure there is rigorous, evidence-based backing to all of its programmes.
Image caption: Tūranga Health’s Dwayne Tamatea and Dallas Poi, and Gisborne Fisheries chief executive Salve Zame discuss the potential of Whakakotahi to help improve and prevent health issues for staff at Gisborne Fisheries.
The hotter months of the year are a prime period for events in the great outdoors, physical activity under the sun and fitness within the wonderful rohe we live in! To do these things that we at times take for granted, it means we need good quality sports shoes. But for many of our VLC whanau who love to partake in physical activity, sports shoes are something that they have gone without – many not even having owned a pair of sports shoes before.
Luckily, the VLC team for the past 5 weeks have been running a Sports Shoes Co-op allowing the whanau to finally be able to purchase their own pair of shoes from Rebel Sports! Now, we don’t know about you – but by the looks on these guys’ faces, we think this has been an awesome initiative! The Vanessa Lowndes Centre is about building confidence and preparing people with mental, physical or intellectual disabilities for employment.
Well done, whanau! We are incredibly proud of your achievements and can’t wait to see you wearing your new shoes at every opportunity! The VLC whanau have been hitting the Kaiti Hill Challenge – so make sure you stop and say “Kia ora!” on your way up the maunga…
PART of being a Tūranga Health team member is about being a great role model.
Waldo Horomia knew that being a sturdy prop helped him on the rugby field, but it wasn't doing him a lot of good in other areas of his life.
“When I finished playing rugby about three years ago I weighed 120kg so I was a sitting duck for health problems like chronic gout or high blood pressure.”
This year Waldo joined Tūranga Health as a member of the CAYAD (Community Action on Youth and Drugs) team.
“I was already working with youth and was mindful that they were in need of role models, and so I was going to have to live up to that.”
Now, having already lost a quarter of his body weight, Waldo (Te Aitanga-a-Hauiti) says he’s “walking the talk” and in better shape for the demands of the Tūranga Health job.
“Much of our work involves running programmes to help young people make better choices around the use of drugs or alcohol so it's pretty demanding,” he says.
“We work in this space because we're all committed to helping make change for our rangatahi.”
While physical activity is known to be good for youth, Waldo says the old-school rugby culture he was involved in has a lot to answer for. “There was just too much alcohol and unsafe behaviour like drink-driving and that caused a lot of grief for whānau. That's really how I came to this work. Our people deserve better.”
LUKE Bradley has devoted his life to physical activity playing sport, studying it, and acting as a sports agent.
Now as a Tūranga Health kaiāwhina he gets to share those same opportunities with young people.
“My role is life skills coach which means I get to spend time with rangatahi at kōhunga and kura and help them develop things like fine motor skills and confidence around physical activity,” he says.
“It's a really great opportunity to help the young ones with skills they can take forward into their lives.”
Luke comes to Tūranga Health after a decade in Japan where, as well as teaching English, he ran a sports agency, helping New Zealand rugby players succeed in a foreign environment.
It was in Japan that his interest in physical activity for young people back home started to grow.
“I was looking at studies about how sport tended to drop off in young people after they left school and that's what really got me interested,” he says.
“There’s so much benefit to be gained in everything from physical fitness to developing leadership skills so supporting that is really rewarding work.”
On any given day Luke (Ngāti Porou/Ngāi Tahu) can be doing anything from working with pre-schoolers to organising the popular 4x4 Basketball League. And he still runs the sports agency.
“Being home means that as well as sharing some of the things I learned in Japan, I can get back in touch with my own culture, language, and people.”
Half of the region’s new babies have their growth and development checked by a Māori health organisation nurse. Just seven years ago it was only 22 percent. The shift reflects ways iwi health providers are reaching out to mums and the extensive wraparound support they offer.
Eight-week-old moko Gypsy Lee Anderson has grown two centimetres in two weeks and mum Kassandra Anderson (Tuhoe, Ngati Porou) is thrilled.
“I’m an experienced mum but I’m a bit of a worrier and it’s nice to have someone here to tell me those kinds of things.”
The busy mother of four looks on proudly as her Tūranga Health Well Child Tamariki Ora nurse Christine Kemp lifts Gypsy off the length chart and on to the baby scales to check her weight. “They’re both doing really well,” says Christine.
Baby Gypsy is just one of 152 babies born between January and June this year receiving Well Child Tamariki Ora nurse care from Tūranga Health. Yearly, around 700 babies are born in the region and if current numbers are anything to go by iwi providers will be supplying the Well Child service to half of them by year end.
Well Child Tamariki Ora is a free service funded by the Ministry of Health for all New Zealand children from birth to five years. The service traces its origins back to when Karitane nurses first specialised in infant care. Since the early 1920s most New Zealanders can claim they had their growth recorded in an official baby book. These days it happens in the Well Child Tamariki Ora book.
Over Gypsy’s next four years of life Christine will make seven to 10 visits – and Christine and Kassandra will record every milestone in Gypsy’s book.
Most of the nurse visits will happen in Gypsy’s first 365 days. Christine will monitor her growth and development as well as Kassandra and the family’s health and wellbeing. She’ll advise about immunisation, oral health, early childhood education, vision and hearing.
In a recent visit Christine brought beanies, booties and a woollen jersey for Gypsy. The gifts weren’t unusual. Many Tūranga Health mums are lucky enough to receive baby clothes and quilted blankets created by local craftswomen who want to give back to the organisation and whānau.
Kassandra says she looks forward to the visits. “I always have questions. ‘Is this okay? Is this normal?” laughs the 34-year-old, who worked at Te Wiremu House as a caregiver before Gypsy was born.
“When Gyspy once cried for what seemed like the entire day, that’s when it was awesome to contact Christine and ask for advice.”
All up there are 2800 zero-to- four-year-olds in the district. Over the past seven years Tūranga Health has gone from looking after 357 zero to four-year-olds to 900. When combined with the 300 pre-schoolers being cared for by Ngati Porou Hauora nurses, Tūranga Health’s Well Child Tamariki Ora coordinator Janneen Kinney says iwi health providers are now seeing 43 percent of the district’s youngsters.
“At Tūranga Health, it’s a privilege that more mums and their families are choosing us to support them. Families are looking for a provider they can connect with, and that’s what we’ve been working hard to make happen at Tūranga Health.”
}Tūranga Health has increased its nurse numbers from two to three to manage demand. The team includes nurses Christine Kemp, Tausilia Letufuga and Akesa Kavai, kaiāwhina Sarah Brown and Leslie Puketapu, and Whānau Ora kaimahi Rhonda Pohatu and Tangiwai Milner-Madden.
Tūranga Health’s services for new mums and their babies includes antenatal classes and breastfeeding advice, and it can help with car seats, driver licensing and home insulation.
Janneen says Tūranga Health staff work where people live, work and play, and that’s been an attraction for families. “Having a baby is an exciting but often challenging time of life for mum and the rest of the whānau. We’re offering mums and their families’ choice, and that’s to be celebrated. Furthermore, what we offer here fits with today’s family life.”
}An example of that is when the nurses use Facebook and its Messenger app to connect with mums no longer actively using the service.
“We find lots of mums using Messenger,” says Christine. “Maybe they’ve moved or don’t have a phone. Often they don’t have credit for calls but they do have access to free wi-fi, and so we’ve become tech friendly and it’s helped us reconnect with mums.”
Kassandra regularly talks to Christine that way. “Messenger is easiest for me because I don’t always have credit on my phone. I’ve wanted to know about sleeping and feeding and even though I’ve been here before with my other children I can’t always remember this type of stuff.”
Janneen thinks Tūranga Health’s communication with families is one reason it’s baby numbers continue to rise. “We want to be relevant and useful to whānau. Between feeding and sleeping and everything else life can throw at you, the support we offer to parents and tamariki adjusting to the new arrival can be crucial.”
Kassandra agrees. She keeps Gypsy’s Well Child Tamariki Ora book in the cot (Gypsy sleeps in a bassinet) and every time Christine turns up she grabs it knowing she’s about to learn a little bit more about her baby’s progress.
“I’ve used other providers before but this time I chose Tūranga Health because friends suggested it. They’ve been awesome and I get all the information I need.”
When Kassandra learns Gypsy has blossomed to a healthy 10 pounds 5 ounces her smile and sense of relief couldn’t be greater.
“That’s another one of my questions ticked off!”
Jo Ware Imagery
A Whatatutu girl who can’t breathe and eat on her own has broken through her physical barriers and started school. Turanga Health has wrapped a number of services around Marita McLaren and discovers that out of a daughter’s illness…a mother has found a career in health.
Five-year old Marita was born with esophageal atresia which means she can’t eat normally. For the past two years she’s also had a compromised airway which means she breathes through a tube in her neck.
Unlucky to be living with these extremely serious conditions, the plucky precious daughter of Bessie and Reid McLaren is lucky enough to be wrapped up in the loving arms of an extraordinary whānau who rarely leave her side.
Marita’s most powerful advocate is her formidable mum Bessie who’s fought for Marita’s life every step of the way and now has her own challenges ahead as she trains to be a nurse. “It’s been an experience,
I’ll tell you that, I didn’t see that coming! But if wasn’t for her I wouldn’t be doing it.”
Marita, Te Aitanga-ā-Mahaki, started school at Te Kura Kaupapa Māori o Whatatutu this year weighing just 17kg, and having survived dozens of life threatening surgeries.
Marita’s esophageal atresia means the tube that carries food from her mouth to her stomach never fully developed. It’s in two segments, one part connected to the throat, and the other part connected to the stomach. Since the two segments didn’t connect Marita needed lifesaving surgery at a day old.
Bessie says while handing her newborn over for surgery was hard, “nothing was as difficult as learning at 32 weeks that the life of my baby hung in the balance”. Rushed to Wellington Hospital and on bed rest for two weeks, the post-birth surgery was just the one of many to come.
Marita’s first operation gave her a way to eat, albeit a complex one. Doctors created an artificial opening just under her neck so that anything she ate could trickle out of the hole into an external bag. The bag’s contents were then fed into Marita’s stomach via a tube. “It would go in, and then out, and then from out to in,” says Bessie, who has grown used to describing complex surgery in everyday language over the years.
During this time Bessie persevered with breastfeeding thereby teaching Marita the important art of swallowing. But it was always fraught with danger as any liquid spilling into Marita’s lungs would have led to a chest infection.
“Breathe, swallow, breathe, swallow. She couldn’t do that initially, and at the start she went all blue. It took a while, but I didn’t carry any fear. You can’t afford to. There’s no room for it – my head was filled up with all the important stuff I had to do.”
At three-years-old Marita had surgery that lifted her stomach to sit above her diaphragm thereby removing the need for the tube and external bag. While she can now eat some food through her mouth, she suffered damage to her windpipe and now Marita breathes with a tracheostomy: a small hole that’s been surgically made into her windpipe through her neck. A tracheostomy (trachy) tube sits in the hole and air goes in and out of her lungs. Just one accidental knock and Marita could be deprived of oxygen....
“She’s a battler,” sighs mum Bessie, who’s also bringing up four older children along with shearer husband Reid. “That’s what helps her get through any surgery. Mentally she’s a tough cookie. She bounces back pretty fast.”
While life in the McLaren house is just like any other family juggling work, school and sport, the difference is that everyone around Marita is skilled in her care and emergency procedures. Marita’s watched 24/7 at home and school, and at night she sleeps right alongside her mum hooked up to a breathing and intravenous food machine. “We’re so aware of her trachy. As long as that’s in the right place we’re not concerned. I’ve tried to make sure the kids don’t feel like they have to overcrowd her…just as long as we are all within shouting distance.”
Marita’s older brother and sisters have learned the skills to help Marita breathe safely. “We can do all the practical stuff that mum does,” explains Aroha (18).
Aroha and the twins Errol and Kirangi (12) live at home. Older sister Ashleigh lives in Gisborne. Each of them can help with the delicate and life-threatening job of changing Marita’s trachy once a week.
“At first what we have to do can be frightening but we’ve all learnt how,” says Aroha.
They also help with suctioning multiple times a day; when mucus in Marita’s airway becomes thick and she can’t get rid of the secretions herself. When they hear the telltale sounds of bubbling they grab the ever present emergency pack, place a small plastic tube through Marita’s trachy, and vacuum the secretions out.
The long term goal is that Marita won’t need the trachy. Recent surgery to help hold her windpipe open hasn’t worked, but Bessie’s quietly confident it’ll be gone by 2019. “There’s always a bigger picture, we’re always going back to the drawing board and mentally we’ve prepared her for what’s coming up.”
Bessie says Marita’s fixated on being able to duck under the water when swimming. “I want to put my head under,” replies Marita in her husky voice.
Since Marita was born Bessie and Reid have received untold kindness, help, and love from whānau and friends . Shearers, teachers, aunties, grandparents and siblings have helped the bilingual family, and Bessie and Reid can’t thank them enough.
“It’s all about family,” says Bessie. “I come from a big family myself and they’re awesome. My sister Pauline Brown has been amazing, always our go-to person. In those early days Reid and I and the twins could be with Marita in Starship and the big kids could stay here with Aunty Pau.”
Bessie also pays tribute to her parents Paul and Wini Brown. “My parents are so cool, they were cool back in the days when I was growing up, and they are still cool now. We never experienced the same kinds of hardship they did. We’ve really got nothing to worry about.”
Because of this unified support Marita has travelled to every family occasion be it school camp, the circus, the marae. She rides a bike, does gymnastics, plays with her dog, mucks about with hockey, and now goes to school. At the same time, Marita’s siblings have also been able to pursue their own childhood dreams, and Bessie and Reid have remained a formidable team.
Bessie: “Because of all of them, the whole extended whānau, we’ve lived as normally as possible. We’ve been able to stay together even when we were with Marita at appointments, surgeries, and clinics all around the North Island. We feel very blessed.”
Turanga Health kaiāwhina Tangiwai Milner says the McLaren and Brown whānau are “awesome”. Turanga Health has supported the family with numerous services including Tamariki Ora, Whānau Ora, marae-based exercise programmes and throat swabs for Rheumatic fever prevention. Turanga Health also recently helped Marita access an i-pad for use at school.
“School has opened up a new world for Marita, and the rest of her family, including Bessie, who’s an amazing mum and is now on her own exciting journey,” says Tangiwai.
After providing much of the high level care needed to keep Marita alive, Bessie, 44, is training to be a nurse. She praises the New Zealand health system, particularly the care received at Starship, but there’s times when she’s been frustrated.
After a particularly harrowing visit to the emergency department, a general practice, and then Starship via an emergency plane all in one day, Bessie decided she needed to do something. “I wanted to get in there on the public’s side and be able to help families that were going through what we were.”
Bessie’s completed her certificate in health science and begins a nursing degree in February. Eventually she’d like to work with neonatal babies. Just as they did during her last period of study, Bessie’s family will set up a desk and chair for her in the living room and do more of the household chores and practical care of Marita.
“They all came to the party when I started studying. I guess we’ve all got that long term goal that Marita won’t have the trachy. If I can achieve these next three years of study, then one day I’ll be working as a nurse!”
Tangiwai and the rest of the Turanga Health staff wish Bessie and Marita all the best as they dive into their new challenges.
OPENING its arms to the nurses of the future has earned a special award for Tūranga Health.
The health provider was named winner of the Support for Undergraduate Nurses (Team) prize at the Nurses and Midwives of Tairawhiti Awards for 2018.
And selector Adrianna Grogan (pictured at left) says the impact of its work will be felt long into the future.
As a senior lecturer at EIT's School of Nursing, Adrianna is charged with placing up to 80 students a year with health providers around Te Tairāwhiti.
She said Tūranga Health had been given the award because of the way it welcomes students with open arms, mentors and encourages them, and ensures they have lots of learning opportunities during their placements.
Tūranga Health is built on a vision of “Kia whai oranga-a-whanau mo nga whakatipuranga' . . . building family wellness for future generations,” she said at the awards ceremony in Gisborne.
It offers EIT third-year nursing students comprehsive primary healthcare placements that encompass values such as tinana (physical), wairua (spiritual), whānau (relationships), and hinengaro (mental health).
According to Adrianna a good number of the 22 students who graduated from EIT with a Bachelor of Nursing in 2018 had enjoyed clinical placements at Tūranga Health. Of those graduates, 20 had employment secured, three of them with a Māori health provider in Auckland,” she says.
The support they received through the course of their training was vital to that, and to the contribution they will make to the health sector going forward.
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