November 2021

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Meet Kristie McCulloch, Taranaki's new diabetes kaitautoko mate huka (she's smiling under the mask!) 

As part of her role, Kristie is part of the Diabetes Integrated Team, a new service being rolled out across Taranaki. As part of Diabetes Awareness Month, we caught up with Kristie for a kōrero about her and the new role.

What does your role involve?

"Supporting whānau along their journey with diabetes from the beginning or at various stages. My role particularly focuses on supporting Māori who have diabetes out of control or uncontrolled (hbA1c greater than 80), and whānau who are newly diagnosed." 

"I'll work as a peer coach, enabling whānau to manage their diabetes themselves.  I'll help whānau identify their goals and make plans to achieve these, motivate them to make positive lifestyle changes, reduce any high-risk behaviours and manage stress – all of which will improve their overall health and wellbeing."

"I will also be there to help whānau find their way around our health system, which can be complicated at times, and look for opportunities to provide education and connect to other services."

Can you tell us about your team?

"I'm part of the Diabetes Integrated Team. I'm employed by Tui Ora and I work within a multi-organisational diabetes team supporting people with diabetes (PWD) to enable better health outcomes. The service is in its early stages of recruitment and will be coming online over the coming months. The team includes a diabetologist (diabetes specialist doctor), diabetes clinical nurse specialists, dietitians, podiatrists, a psychologist and kaitautoko."

What are you looking forward to?

"Being a type 1 diabetic (I don't get offended in calling myself a diabetic) I'm looking forward to supporting people with the care that I didn't get on my journey. I will be able to apply lived experience to make their journey smoother."

What's your background?

"My background is customer service – 15+ years managing in the retail sector.  I enjoyed meeting a whole range of people and hearing a wide range of stories."

What's the best thing about the job?

"The best thing about my new role is being able to do something I'm interested in doing, I have a drive for bettering whānau's experiences with diabetes. I can't wait to get started; this doesn't feel like work – being able to provide the best support because I have the lived experience to apply my knowledge."

What inspires you to do your work?

"My whakapapa. Being responsible for my health, the health of whānau, hapu and iwi – to look after our people here in Taranaki. What is important? He Tangata He Tangata He Tangata - it is the people!"

 Any big plans or dreams?

"I just finished my Diploma in Raranga Toi. Next year I'll start my 2-year degree in Raranga. I hope to be able to use my art as a way of healing with whānau with diabetes – I relate the raranga (weaving art) as piece of whenu (strip of flax). The whenu are like whānau who come into our services needing help and go out of our services when they are feeling well – and then they can weave back in if they need to again. Whānau living with diabetes to me is more than just the chronic disease. It's aligning Te Ao Māori with our health services and looking after all aspects of health (wairua, physical, mental)."

What do you like to do outside of work?

"I'm a single mum of twins – most of my time is spent with them adventuring. I work within my hapu (Ngāti Te Whiti) and contract to New Plymouth District Council for art and design mahi. We've just finished the design process for the Kawaroa Playground. In any other spare time, I focus on my studies, I enjoy making Rongoa (Māori medicines) and weaving."

 

Reproduced with permission from Taranaki District Health Board

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