Otago Polytechnic
Balclutha bridge Kathrin Stefan Marks 12 Jul 2013 2

Building a healthier community

Nursing students have been working to meet health needs of rural communities.

This year four teams of students have been working with four different rural communities, in Palmerston, Wanaka, Lawrence and Balclutha. Each group began by building a profile of the community, and making a preliminary identification of community health issues.  They then talked with relevant community organisations to verify those issues and explore them further. The final stage in each of the four projects was to develop sustainable solutions appropriate for the particular community.

The team working with the Balclutha community produced a leaflet "Bridging the Gap" to help locals identify and access relevant health care services. This is proving useful for communicating available resources and is part of the toolkit for Clutha Health First's Social Worker.

The students also provided Clutha Health First with a report. One of the main messages from the report was around the promotion of a healthier community. Clutha Health First has revised its organisational vision from “Providing a Health Service” to “Improving the health of our community”.  Although many factors beyond its control influence people's health, Clutha Health First accepts the need to take leadership and act as an advocate where multiple agencies are collaborating to achieve a healthier community. 

Chief Executive Officer Ray Anton says: "The idea of a Forum proposed in the report fits well within our updated Strategic Plan and also with the activities of Alliance South. The CDHN started meeting a couple of months ago and has had three meetings. This is a forum that includes the various health providers in the district plus Police, Clutha District Council,  Ambulance, Fire Service, Helicopter Transport among other agencies. We are looking to expand the forum in the future. The objective of the Forum is to work together to improve the health and wellbeing of our community. We want to achieve reduced need for acute presentation by managing the health upstream. This Group is in its infancy but has huge potential."

The report also canvassed the telehealth service provision options for Clutha Health First. "On the subject of telehealth, CHF is committed to the implementation of a Patient Portal for our patients.  This will improve access and ownership by the patient of their health information and give them more control of how and when they access services.  It will also open a communication avenue between them and their doctors/nurses.  We are also working with the DHB and other providers at implementing telehealth clinics." 

Image credit: Kathrin & Stefan Marks, used under Creative Commons licence

October 2016