Health Passport to assist those with disabilities

Whanganui District Health Board (WDHB) residents with disabilities have a new tool at their disposal - a nationally designed Health Passport designed to help nursing and medical staff understand their care and support needs.
WDHB public health, community & rural nurse manager Lucy Dunlop believes the purple and white passport can make a significant difference to people who sometimes find it difficult to remember, or relay, their personal and medical information to clinical staff.
“When any one of us is sick or attending appointments, it’s always easy to forget the detail required by clinicians and this can become particularly difficult for those with disabilities,” Mrs Dunlop says.
“The passport could change that. With the help of their family members or carers, the owner will complete the various sections within the distinctive purple A4 passport and bring it to hospital.”
The passport was developed following the hospital death of a young, disabled woman who had experienced many difficulties when admitted to an undisclosed New Zealand hospital that was unable to meet the needs specific to her disability.
Convinced that her daughter may not have died had a document like the Health Passport been available to hospital staff, the woman’s mother has pushed hard for hospitals nationwide to make them available to prevent similar tragedies happening again.
The original Health Passport document was prepared by the Wandsworth Community Learning Disability Team (WCLDT) in London then modified by New Zealand’s Office of the Health and Disability Commissioner (HDC) in partnership with other agencies.
“There was an enthusiastic response from community agency staff working with people with disabilities when a meeting was held at Wanganui Hospital last month,” Mrs Dunlop says.
The WDHB’s next step is to introduce the Health Passport next week, at a staff meeting to be attended by Elizabeth Finn from the Health and Disability Commission.