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New Mobile Maori Nursing Service Aims To Save Lives in Western Bay of Plenty

Larissa Bilyard 30/09/05

Western Bay of Plenty Maori can now access a mobile nursing service aimed at detecting illness early and helping unwell people to better manage their own care in the comfort and familiarity of their own homes.

Launched by the Western Bay of Plenty Primary Health Organisation (PHO) the centralised mobile whanau nursing service is the first of its kind in New Zealand. This initiative is long overdue and supports the shift in health care from hospitals to the community.

PHO general manager Roger Taylor says two fulltime nurses will help detect illnesses early, teach whanau to manage their own care and help bridge the gap between unwell people, their GPs and other health services.

"We expect the mobile nursing service will reduce the numbers of Maori people admitted to hospital and consequently reduce the need for expensive secondary care," Taylor says.

The mobile nurses are fully qualified Registered Clinical nurses who will be managed by a Team Leader, a multi-disciplinary support team and a range of Clinical Nursing and Medical expertise. Cultural support for this initiative is provided by the Hauora, Iwi health providers, kaumatua, whaea and whanau.

The two nurses will manage up to a maximum of 500 clients a year within the Western Bay of Plenty boundaries with substantial cost savings to the tax payer.

"They will take nursing services to where the clients are, whether it's in their homes, marae or at work," This of course is a major shift in the delivery of health care and avoids unnecessary disruption to people's lives and employment with cost benefits to employers, whanau and the community," Taylor says.

Referrals are expected to come from whanau, GPs, hauora, iwi, other health providers and self-referral.

The nurses are employed by the Te Hunga Manaaki Services and the project is being managed by the PHO to best practice guidelines.

A 2004 review of the seven Maori hauora health providers aligned with the PHO, found only two had nurses, one of whom was fulltime.

While the mobile nurses will work alongside patients and families in a bid to self manage a variety of chronic illnesses, they will not take on early diagnosis heart, diabetic, respiratory or cancer illnesses which are already being managed.

The nurses will however deal with all chronic illnesses, including renal failure, chronic asthma, chronic respiratory, long term diabetes, muscular and skeletal injuries and many other illnesses.

People under 15 years of age cannot be serviced by the nurses at this time but the PHO anticipates that a demand for these nurses to care for all age groups in the community will put pressure on the service to employ more nurses.

The Western Bay of Plenty Primary Health Organisation, one of New Zealand's largest PHOs, has almost 127,000 patients registered with health providers in its area.

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