Domestic violence screening well received by women
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The family violence screening programme introduced in Wanganui Hospital’s Emergency Department mid last year has been well received by the women asked if they have been experiencing violence in their homes.
 
And Whanganui Regional Primary Health Organisation (WRPHO) chief executive Judith MacDonald says the violence assessment training programme piloted for three months in three Whanganui GP practices this year has been equally successful.
 
Whanganui District Health Board violence intervention programme coordinator Mars Delamere.
says to date, ED has received no objections to the questioning. And many women in the 16 to 85 target age group, have expressed gratitude for the opportunity to open up and admit that they are experiencing violence in their homes.
 
“I’m pleased to say that a random sample of 30 Emergency Department patient files audited in July indicated of those questioned, there were no disclosures of violence,” Ms Delamere says.
 
“However, there have been women spoken to outside of the July audit who’ve disclosed violence and many of those women have thanked our nursing staff for asking them. While there have been no complaints made by women we did receive one complaint from a male who approached an ED staff member to express his displeasure.
 
“We’re aware of women who, as a result of the Violence Intervention Programme, have tucked palm size family violence information in their shoes before leaving the department, have been encouraged to self refer to organisations such as Jigsaw and Family Works, and who’ve chosen to leave violent relationships. 
 
“All the women spoken to in ED have been given information about family violence services and ED staff have referred some patients to frontline services such as the Police, Women’s Refuge and or Child Youth and Family Services.”
 
In the meantime, Mrs MacDonald says because primary care teams working in general practices around the WDHB region develop meaningful relationships with their patients and families, it’s  appropriate that sensitive issues such as exposure to family violence are discussed within the privacy and confidence of this trusting relationship.
 
“The WRPHO is proud of the support general practitioners have demonstrated in attending training to better equip themselves to having these difficult conversations and providing assessment tools for early identification,” Mrs MacDonald says.
 
“The pilot has highlighted the important role and responsibility that general practice teams have in the routine enquiry and provision of supports in regards to family violence.
 
“One practice said they’d found the questioning was well received and that patients were very receptive to being asked. No one has been offended as yet, and strategies had been initiated for some victims and families who would not have this help if the questioning was not there.
Staff as a whole are more comfortable with asking the questions and they’re breaking down barriers by advising the patients it’s now a routine question.”