Monday 13th March 2017
New service brings support closer to home
For people like Kath Gardiner being able to see an Occupational
Therapist just a few minutes from her home in Te Teko has been a
Kath by her own admission isn't as sprightly as she used to be.
In recent years the little things that most of us take for granted
like getting up out of an armchair and getting up off the toilet
have gradually become quite tricky.
"My knees aren't what they used to be. I've got bruises on my
arms where I've knocked myself trying to brace myself to stop
myself from falling over.
"Like most women, I'm not one to moan, I just accepted that's
the way it is. I didn't realise there was support available and I
could do something about it."
But that all changed six months ago when Kath found out about a
new health service being provided by the Bay of Plenty District
Health Board working with her local health service He Tohunga Ora
Every week either Community Occupational Therapist Julie Mallen
or Physiotherapist Lois Watson, from the BOPDHB's Community Allied
Health Service is at the Te Teko Health Clinic providing
assessment, support and advice aimed at keeping people healthy in
"Our aim is to support people to live safely in their homes.
Falls prevention is a big issue. By making slight
modifications to a person's home, or supporting them with mobility
equipment or an exercise programme we can make a huge difference to
the quality of a person's life. That can reduce the risk of them
having a serious fall which can lead to a lengthy hospital stay,"
Julie has been working as an Occupational Therapist in people's
homes for nine years. Referrals are received by Te Koru Therapy
& Rehab at Whakatāne Hospital direct from the public or other
As you do, working in a small community, Julie got to know some
locals quite well and realised many people were unaware that
occupational therapy or physiotherapy home support existed.
"For example I found out about a person who'd been diagnosed
with Multiple Sclerosis twelve years ago and had not been referred
to Allied Health. That was a turning point for me; I thought there
must be a better way."
As a result Julie built relationships with staff at He Tohunga
Ora mō Rangitaiki to establish an Allied Health drop in clinic
following patients up at home at a later date if needed.
Julie and Lois work closely with the other health professionals
at the clinic who send patients their way.
It's through the clinic that Te Teko woman Louise Te Maipi has
been able to access the support she desperately needed to continue
caring for her elderly uncle, Koata Rota who is living across the
road from her with dementia and diabetes.
"It got to the point where caring for uncle was taking a toll on
my own health. It was almost becoming a daily occurrence, having to
rally-up support from some young fit healthy relatives to help me
move uncle because he'd fallen down or got stuck inside," says
Aside from carrying out occupational therapy, physiotherapy or
women's health issues assessments, as part of the BOPDHB's
Community Allied Health Service, Julie and Lois also refer their
patients to other support they may need, such as a social worker,
dietitian, podiatrist, speech-language therapist, Maori Health or
Support Net (Needs Assessment and Service Coordination Service
"It's about working out what support each patient needs to keep
them healthy in their home. We also refer to specialist
health services, as well as other support agencies for things like
budgetary advice," says Julie.
In Louise's case this led to her getting regular home help,
personal care and carer support days to back her in her role as
caregiver and uncle being seen by a Geriatrician and other health
"It's been a weight off having that extra support. In my whānau
we look after our own. I know there will come a time where we
may have to face coming up with a different living arrangement for
uncle. But right now with additional support, we're coping."
Although Julie and Lois have only been working from the Te Teko
Health Clinic for six months, word has spread in the community and
they are now seeing people from Edgecumbe and Kawerau.
Health Centres at Matata and Waimana are also keen for a similar
service which locals can access on their doorstep.
Caption: Kath (left) relaxing at home in her modified armchair,
organised by Occupational Therapist Julie Mallen (right).
Caption: Left to right: Occupational Therapist Julie Mallen, Koata
Rota, Louise Te Maipi and Physiotherapist Lois Watson outside He
Tohunga Ora mō Rangitaiki,Te Teko.
Bay of Plenty District Health Board
March 13, 2017