Three nurses, one kaiāwhina, years of experience, expertise and empathy – it adds up to a winning combination in the Community Nursing team at Tui Ora.
Three services sit under the community nursing banner: Asthma Support, Cancer Navigation and Long-Term Conditions which is diabetes, cardiac and lung conditions.
All three priortise Māori and high needs clients with pre-existing conditions, who face barriers to receiving adequate service.
Registered nurses – Jo Bertrand, Caroline Weterings and Deb Penn - provide clinical expertise while kaiāwhina Joyleen Connell is a navigator, supporting people in a variety of ways, particularly around issues related to social services.
In recent months the team has been bolstered by Joyleen’s arrival. She has worked at Tui Ora for four years including two as a Medical Care Assistant at Tui Ora Family Health.
She works alongside Deb – together the pair understand the whole person-whole whānau focus. It’s a key part of the service which makes it different from other similar services in the region.
Many clinicians - rightly so - focus on a cancer diagnosis and treatment and who is responsible for the treatment pathway, says Deb. A person's mental wellbeing may take second place, despite the fact some people feel like their life is falling apart with a cancer diagnosis.
"We want to support people early - clinically and socially. A lot of it is fear based and people don't understand what is going on, or what might happen next.
"But it's not all doom and gloom and we are ideally placed to provide the right information and support. Googling information on the internet isn't always helpful because it's not necessarily accurate to their situation. It tends to be general."
Says Joyleen: "I understand the clinical approach and why it's necessary, but in this role, I'm quite passionate about the other non-clinical support that's needed.
"I feel like when I'm with clients I have more empathy towards the family and can have those honest conversations, encouraging them to live to the best of their ability with their illness or diagnosis."
Long-Term Conditions nurse Jo Bertrand says being responsive and having the flexibility to go into homes is vital – and makes the Tui Ora services unique.
"We go into the home and often the person referred to me is not the decision maker so you need to work with the whānau to change things. Someone else is cooking the food, someone else is buying the groceries and we can see that. When you see someone in a clinic you don't get that background about their personal circumstances."
Jo works with clients who have a pre-existing condition of diabetes, cardiac and/or lung disease. Some can be disengaged from mainstream services.
"They need more individual support, more flexibility and greater consideration of their lifestyle. The service is grounded in best practice guidelines but we adapt the care plan to work with what the person needs and can realistically deal with."
Asthma Support Service nurse Caroline Weterings makes up the third strand of the Community Nursing team, and offers the same mobile, affordable and accessible care.
She spends a lot of time educating people and breaking down misunderstandings. "There's a misconception that it's just asthma, but for some it's a serious disease that can be life threatening and does need to be taken seriously. There can be can be confusion around inhaler use without seeking further understanding and information. Getting that right is important."
Referrals to these services can come from a number of sources including through self-referral. For further queries email [email protected](external link)
To refer yourself or another person email [email protected] including name, date of birth, contact phone numbers, address, reason for referral and any other relevant information.
Contact the nursing team by phoning 06 759 4064 or Asthma Support (027 567 8823), Cancer Support (027 809 9348), Cancer Support Kaiāwhina (027 208 7812) or Long Term Conditions (027 4570185).