Whanganui leads two significant projects
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4 March 2013
 
Whanganui District Health Board (WDHB) is the first of New Zealand’s 20 DHBs to complete a Health Quality & Safety Commission audit designed to measure actions undertaken to reduce falls among the elderly.
 
Led by the Health Quality and Safety Commission, the audit is focused on reducing the harm caused when Pacific and Maori patients 55 and over and all patients 65 and over, fall in hospital.
 
WDHB director of nursing Sandy Blake says it’s been estimated New Zealand spends $205 million a year for the ongoing care of people who are admitted to hospital after falling or who fall and hurt themselves in hospitals.
 
“We know that falls are the leading causes of injury in people older than 65 and, that falls can have serious consequences in terms of pain and mobility,” Mrs Blake says.
 
“As part of our commitment to reduce falls, the Whanganui District Health Board is the first DHB to complete an audit measuring whether our elderly patients are being assessed correctly for risk of falling, and whether a plan has been put in place to significantly reduce the number of people who fall and hurt themselves.
 
“I’m delighted the WDHB is taking the lead in this effort and I’m confident that good progress will be made on this important issue at a national level.”
 
Meanwhile, Whanganui’s Gateway programme (a cross-sector, collaborative needs assessment of children in the care of Child, Youth and Family) was applauded last week by the
national Gateway Assessment project team for exceeding the number of completed referrals they’ve been contracted to process during the past year.

Wellington-based Child, Youth and Family protection manager Chris Pickering says the WDHB’s effort is “a fantastic achievement for everyone involved in the Gateway Assessment process”.  
 
“Children and young people in your area are being referred promptly (as per Child, Youth and Family policy) and referrals are being completed within timeframe,” Mr Pickering said.

“Whanganui DHB is currently leading the way with regards to managing Gateway referrals, completing health assessments and referring children and young people to services to meet identified needs.”
 
Mr Pickering says Whanganui DHB had surpassed other DHB’s who are part of the Gateway Assessment ‘pilot’ project - an impressive achievement, given that the Gateway Assessment service in Whanganui has been operational for less than a year.

He said he would be making the Child, Youth and Family national operations team well aware of Whanganui’s success.
 
In October last year Whanganui was hailed a success story for the way in which the district’s medical and social services were working collaboratively to support children and young people experiencing mental illness.
 
 WDHB Child & Adolescent Mental Health Service (CAMHS) clinical manager Sean Moloney said at the time Whanganui had been singled out as a leader in the Gateway programme by Ministry of Social Development staff responsible for monitoring Gateway around the country.
 
They’d told Mr Maloney that Whanganui’s medical and social services were doing a wonderful job sharing information, working together and creating a seamless approach to meeting the needs of our young, vulnerable people and their whanau.
 
Mr Moloney says he’s convinced the move to co-locate CAMHS with Child and Women’s Health has helped to encourage the two services to share information and work together to provide the best possible care for the overall health needs of our young people.
 
“The Ministry of Health’s much publicised expectation that agencies involved in supporting young people’s health needs have to ‘talk to each other’, is spot on. Given that it’s widely accepted that mental health and general wellbeing go hand-in-hand, government services do have a responsibility to work together.”
 
Mr Maloney is very supportive of the Ministry’s Rising to the Challenge, Mental Health and Addiction Service Development Plan 2012 – 2017 (currently out for consultation) which he says provides a strong strategic direction for enhancing the mental health of all New Zealanders over the next five years.”
 
“The Rising to the Challenge plan is informed by the Mental Health Commission’s Blueprint II document which acknowledges that everyday factors such as a person’s income, housing, engagement in education, and ability to find work impact on the mental health and general wellbeing of themselves and their family. It makes sense that when someone is mentally unwell, we consider these factors as parts of a much broader picture,” Mr Moloney says.
 
“For our young people in the Gateway programme who are facing multiple health and social challenges it’s absolutely vital that every agency working with them pulls together to get the best outcome. We know that the first three years of a child’s life can determine how they will develop as an adult so if a child’s first three years are ‘chaotic’, they and their parents are more likely to need multi-agency support.
 
“This might involve ensuring that the child and young person remains engaged with education, helping the family with their housing needs, helping parents find employment or helping parents deal with their drug and alcohol problems. We can’t address the major issues of poverty and child abuse unless we take a multi-agency approach.
 
“Making sure young, vulnerable people attend school is a big issue for us in Whanganui. Disengaging with school and education can leave children and teenagers susceptible to making wrong lifestyle choices which in turn can lead to mental health issues later in life.”
 
Mr Moloney says he knows Whanganui agencies are helping to improve the lives of many young people and he’s particularly proud that Whanganui’s Gateway programme has been singled out as a leader in this effort. “If Whanganui can do this successfully then so too can the rest of the country,” he says.