People with disabilities urged to use Health Passport
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20 March 2015

Whanganui District Health Board (WDHB) is urging residents with disabilities or chronic illnesses to make the most of the Health Passport introduced three years ago to help nursing and medical staff understand their care and support needs.


WDHB staff members Lucy Dunlop and Sue Penfold discuss the Health Passport.
WDHB public health, community & rural nurse manager Lucy Dunlop says the purple and white passport can make a significant difference to those finding it difficult to remember or relay, their personal and medical information to clinical staff.

“There was a lot of publicity when the passport was launched but as time’s gone on I suspect people have forgotten they’re available or no-one’s suggested they get one.
 
“Trying to remember or state the detail clinicians ask for can be a challenge for all of us so I would encourage family members and carers to get a passport and help their family member, client or friend with a disability to fill it in and take it with them when being admitted to hospital or attending a medical appointment.”

Mrs Dunlop says the distinctive purple A4 passport was developed following the death of a young, disabled woman who experienced many difficulties when admitted to a New Zealand hospital unable to meet her specific needs.

Convinced her daughter may not have died had a document like the Health Passport been available to hospital staff, the woman’s mother 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.

Mrs Dunlop says families or individuals wanting a Health Passport can go online to www.hdc.org.nz and print one off, there’s the option of purchasing one from the Health and Disability Commission by emailing healthpassport@hdc.org.nz or for those already admitted to hospital, asking staff if they could provide one.