In our bubbles, we have been keeping safe. Essential health care service providers are ensuring those bubbles aren't too disrupted, taking extra precautions while caring for those in need.
For Pirirakau Hauora, a hapū-based Māori health provider, amongst all the changes and precautions taken, one thing holding strong is the whanau connection.
Delivering a range of health and wellbeing services to the hapū of Pirirakau and people of Te Puna and surrounding areas, they have taken many measures to ensure their clients are safe and connected.
There is hand sanitizer throughout the building, plastic chairs have replaced regular chairs for easy cleaning, and a system to keep patients distanced is working well.
When it comes to appointments, their doctor is doing phone consultations, making home visits to see those who are more vulnerable, and a separate building is used for those with respiratory issues.
While there has been a decrease in demand for homecare and GP services, palliative care referrals have increased along with mental health inquiries. Their mental health team have reported changes in moods, either low or high, and general boredom and isolation have been the key issues during the lockdown.
Pirirakau Hauora Manager’s Assistant Kimi Peachey says one service that has seen a significant increase in flu vaccinations, with over 100 more flu vaccinations given compared to last year, thanks to their incredible nurses and supportive staff.
“We are doing them in a separate room at the opposite end of the building to the GP clinic, and some flu jabs are done whilst patients stay in their car. For those preferring to stay in their bubble, our nurse has also been doing home visits.”
Kimi says keeping in touch with those in our community who are vulnerable, physically, mentally, and emotionally, has been vital during this time.
“It has been a huge adjustment, particularly for our Maori culture not to be able to awhi, kihi, have tangi and in general socialise.”
“Depending on the situation, we’re contacting our vulnerable regularly by phone or our staff are seeing them on a needs basis. All vulnerable whanau have also received care packs from the Hauora, and we’ve increased our social media posting to keep people updated and in touch with the never-ending changes each day brings us.”
Despite these difficult times, compassion and care are shining through, with the community rallying to support one another, and Pirirakau Hauora itself.
“There has been a surge in the sharing of kai, with fresh fish, kamokamo, apples, feijoas donated. Poututerangi Marae donated all their non-perishables, and this has been made available for the community either via Pirirakau Hauora’s Pataka kai (a traditional kai storage) or delivered alongside hygiene care packages.
“We were also so fortunate to receive six face shields produced by a very thoughtful local, which has been tremendously helpful and has provided the added security for our staff when coming into close contact with our community.”
Additional assistance has also come in the form of funding through the Rapid Response Fund, allowing Pirirakau Hauora to purchase webcams, headsets, mobile phones, hand sanitizer and stationery and continue their service during the lockdown.
TECT Trustee Amanda Sutcliffe says TECT and other local funders were happy to support the service with $3,363 in funding.
“Our goal with the Rapid Release Fund is to support those community groups facing an increase in demand or funding shortfall as a result of COVID-19.
“Just because we are in lockdown does not mean all the common illnesses, accidents, and healthcare needs stop, in fact, for those most vulnerable, ease of access to care is more vital than ever. We are pleased Pirirakau Hauora can continue to help clients with their new equipment, allowing them to keep in touch while on the road visiting clients, and at home through phone consults.”
To learn more about Pirirakau Hauora, visit www.pirirakauhauora.org.nz.