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10 Practices Join the Health Care Home Programme

Wednesday 23 December 2020

Over 53,000 more patients in the Southern region are set to benefit from the Southern Health Care Home programme, as 10 new general practices sign on. They will join the 115,000 patients and 14 practices already in Health Care Home.

 Aurora Health Centre in Dunedin and Central Medical Oamaru, along with the Invercargill practices Catherine Street Medical Centre, He Puna Waiora Wellness Centre and South City Medical Centre, started the programme in November. A further five practices – Dunedin North Medical Centre, Dunedin South Medical Centre, Dunedin Health Centre (formerly Caversham) Mosgiel Health Centre and Fiordland Medical Practice – will begin in March.

 In total, nearly 60% of the population in Otago and Southland will be enrolled with HCH practices.

“Health Care Home is the gold standard model for general practice, making it easier for patients and whānau to access the care they need – particularly those most in need – and helping support patients to better manage their own care,” says Andrew Swanson-Dobbs, Chief Executive, WellSouth.  

"We've made particular effort to engage practices with Māori and Pasifika and high-needs patients – populations for whom we are committed to improving access to care. The Health Care Home model can often provide better support because efficiency gains mean there are more options for care and more time for patients who need it most, such as those with long-term conditions. These improvements also help ensure the long-term sustainability of general practice” says Mr Swanson-Dobbs.

Lisa Gestro, Southern DHB’s Executive Director of Strategy, Primary and Community, says the Health Care Home programme is a vital part of improvements to the Southern health system. This includes new Integrated Health and Wellness Hubs, for which Southern DHB has recently issued request for proposals, as well as the new Dunedin hospital and other improvements to models of care.

“Strengthening general practice to better support patients and whānau underlies significant gains we’re making as part of the implementation of the Primary and Community Care Strategy. More options for care, less time waiting, and greater continuity of care are among other benefits of the Health Care Home programme. This is best for a patient, makes best use of health resources and it makes the whole system work better.”

Stuart Barson, WellSouth Health Care Home lead, says Health Care Home updates the traditional general practice approach that’s based on a 15-minute GP consultation. Face-to-face appointments are still available – in fact, they’re more readily available for those who most need them. But there are more options for accessing care, including greater use of online patient portals, telephone consultations and seeing other health professionals like a nurse or health coach,” says Mr Barson. 


Dr Jill McIlraith
Aurora Health Centre

Aurora Health Centre is a well established practice in South Dunedin, now in its 30th year, having been started by 4 women doctors in 1991.

It has thrived since then, and merged with South City Medical Centre in 2013, when it moved to its present premises in Macandrew Road. It is a medium sized practice with just under 6000 patients serving a diverse range of patients. It is a long-time teaching practice for both medical and nursing students and general practice registrars, with 3 of the present 5 directors having done their advanced training in the practice.  It has been Cornerstone accredited for 10 years and has recently achieved completion of the Teaching module.

“We see Health Care Home as an extension of what the practice has long aimed for – patient-focussed medicine that lets us balance the needs of the acutely unwell with those needing long term care for chronic conditions in a sustainable, happy practice.

We see the benefits as helping us build new ways of doing this to help reach those people most in need, those for whom there are barriers to health care and those often most marginalised while still looking after staff and acknowledging their value.

Health Care Home looks at different ways of working to achieve this using patient portals, telemedicine,  triaging - so that a patient is seen by the right person at the right time - close team work, proactive long-term care (for example of diabetes and heart  disease) with every staff member working at the top of their scope of practice.

2020 has been a year of change and we see Health Care Home as part of the journey to strengthen primary health care and make it as effective as possible in caring for our community.”


Maria Colligan-Haggart
He Puna Waiora Wellness Centre Practice Manager

He Puna Waiora Wellness Centre is a Cornerstone-Accredited Very Low Cost Access GP Practice in Central Invercargill with 3517 enrolled patients.
The practice has 20 staff in total, including four doctors, three nurses, a trainee Health Care Assistant, a Health Improvement Practitioner and Health Coach, and rongoa/natural therapies.

“The practice joined the HCH Programme in order to achieve a streamlined, efficient process for patient care management.

“Being a part of this programme means our staff are competent, confident, and lead out on quality patient-care delivery. It means we are operationally smart and current in meeting the demands of the ever-changing primary care environment.”     

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