WDHB staff step forward to champion violence intervention programme

25 October 2013

From left: Theatre Department pre-admission clinic nurse Diana Harrison and Outpatients Department pre-admission nurse Deb Jennings.
Increasing numbers of Whanganui District Health Board (WDHB) staff are stepping up to become violence intervention programme (VIP) champions.
Keen to see family violence reduced, 20 staff are now screening patients they work with - the two most recent to join the effort being Outpatients Department pre-admission nurse Deb Jennings and Theatre Department pre-admission clinic nurse Diana Harrison.
“Asking patients if they are experiencing family violence is now part of Deb and Diana’s pre-admission assessment process,” says District Health Board VIP coordinator Barbara Charuk. “And they’re very encouraged by the response they’re getting.”
“Deb and Diana wonder if this is a reflection of people’s growing appreciation of the need for every one of us to participate in the effort to reduce family violence. Many women are telling our staff they have no problem being questioned about it. Some even say how grateful they are to have had the opportunity to open up and tell someone they are being hurt.”
Ms Charuk says most WDHB departments now have VIP champions - all of them social workers or nurses who want to see more staff volunteering to undertake VIP programme training.
“VIP champions receive training in how to ask the standard set of questions they’re given and then, what to do when people tell them they do need help,” Ms Charuk says.
“While the number of people who disclose they’re experiencing violence remains relatively low, we believe it will increase as people learn it is ok to ask for help and that our DHB is there to support them.
“Health sector staff not only understand how seriously family violence can impact on a person’s health but they recognise that it can take victims a long time to feel able to ask for help.”
Ms Charuk urges anyone in the community who has concerns that someone they know might be a victim of family violence to contact an organisation which can help. This might include the Women’s Refuge, the Police, Family Works, Jigsaw, Wanganui Living without Violence and Relationships Aotearoa to name a few.