WellSouth initiates Māori wellness checks

 

NEWS RELEASE
31 July 2020

 WellSouth initiates Māori wellness checks

WellSouth is supporting general practices to re-engage and reconnect with Māori, encouraging them to catch up any health care that may have been missed during the COVID-19 lockdown.

WellSouth clinicians are making telephone calls to Māori patients to check on their health and well-being and offering influenza vaccinations to anyone who’s not yet received one.

Patients contacted are asked simple questions – How are you? How are your whānau? Do you have any health concerns? People contacted so far have appreciated the gesture.

Peter Ellison, WellSouth Associate Māori Health Officer, says it is important for general practice to maintain a connection with Māori communities: “We want to ensure Māori access primary care services and to help general practice to support Māori communities. WellSouth has a commitment to achieving equitable health outcomes for Māori, and are working together with Iwi, hapū, whānau, Māori providers and communities.”

“The winter months are difficult, but especially this year, with the COVID-19 lockdown, some people may not have sought the care they would have ordinarily. 

Gilbert Taurua, Chief Māori Health Strategy and Improvement Officer, says the COVID-19 lockdown may have prevented some people from accessing the health care they need.

“Māori are likely to face an increased burden of worsening outcomes from both COVID-19 and non-COVID-19 health conditions during lockdown. These wellness calls to Māori patients is our proactive strategy to reach out to this population and better understand their needs from a holistic perspective”.

 Initially trialled with patients from a Dunedin practice, the Māori wellness checks will be rolled out across the district in the coming weeks.

 WellSouth Call Centre

 The outbound calls are being made from WellSouth Clinical Services Call Centre, which was set up during COVID to provide information and bookings for testing in the Southern region. And while this continues to be the call centre’s primary function, it was clear the call centre could be helpful to support other services provided to the public and to WellSouth practices.

 “We identified Māori wellness checks as a priority as we moved to Alert Level 1,” says Andrew Swanson-Dobbs, CEO, WellSouth. “But there are other areas where the call centre can and will be used to improve access to services in the future, including supporting Southern’s bowel cancer screening programme, as well as for some mental health and outreach nursing services.”

 ENDS