Tagata Pasifika

The Pacific voice on
New Zealand television
since 1987

Tagata Pasifika

The Pacific voice on
New Zealand television
since 1987

Pacific Health Plus donates care packages to 420 elderly and ill patients in Porirua

Source: PHP

The PHP team assembles the packages of care at the health centre. Photo / Supplied

Pacific Health Plus (PHP), a Pacific Primary Healthcare service in Cannons Creek, in partnership with Pasifika Futures, is ensuring its most vulnerable patients get the food and personal items they need during COVID-19 lockdown.

Lee Pearce, Director of Pacific Health Plus, explains that many of PHP’s patients are elderly or vulnerable. “They rely on family and friends to help them with things like shopping and cooking, and this has been made a lot more difficult now that families have to stay in their own homes.

“It is the elderly and vulnerable that have been the hardest hit by lockdown isolation.”

PHP, which services 2234 people, 60% of which are high needs patients in Cannons Creek, has been phoning its patients to find out what their needs are during this challenging time.

“Starting with the oldest and those with chronic health conditions, we are calling our patients and asking them first if they need our help, and then we determine what their needs are.

“By phoning them personally we can make sure that the packages of care are personalised to the family, but importantly it is also an opportunity for us to check in on the patient’s physical and mental health.

The PHP team assembles the packages of care at the health centre and drops it on the doorstep of the recipient following all government safety guidelines.

“Our staff are completely donned in safety gear when they pack and deliver the packages of care. Once we have dropped it on the doorstep we phone the recipient and wait from a distance until they come out and collect it,” explains Lee.

The feedback from the recipients has been appreciative and sometimes emotional.

“It is a humbling experience to give to the community and see the appreciation. Some people are shocked and too overwhelmed to speak, some cry. It can be very emotional,” says Lee.

As of Monday April 6th the team had sent out packages of care to 44 families consisting of 250 people, and work is still underway.

PHP has also been working with Wellington-based Pasifika artist Michel Tuffery to communicate COVID-19 preventative measures through Michel’s “Handle with Care” series.

The artwork takes inspiration from postal services, using Pacific and New Zealand postage stamps redesigned with individuals wearing face masks and rubber gloves, stamped over with a ‘fragile’ sticker.

One of the works from Michel Tuffery’s ‘Handle with Care’ series, a response to Covid-19. Photo / Supplied

“The series is trying to show how fragile our community is, and that we really need to look after our elderly, and those with health conditions,” says Michel.

The images have been printed as posters and put up around the local community in the pharmacies and supermarkets as well as at neighbouring health clinics and on Facebook and websites.

PHP is remains open and seeing patients, sourcing medical PPE supplies, doing flu vaccinations, child immunisations and seeing patients using a variety of methods such as staggered appointments, video/phone consultations. PHP is also utilising technology for other services including remote access.

“It is important we keep the basic health of this community as strong as possible to eliminate vulnerabilities to COVID-19,” says Lee.

“It is our duty and responsibility to ensure that our patients and their communities are cared for,” says John Fiso, board chair of Pacific Health Plus.

“Pasifika communities in disadvantaged areas are extremely vulnerable to COVID-19. We must do what we can to ensure that they are kept healthy, and are sticking to rules around prevention. We are sourcing more flu vaccines and protective gear to ensure we can continue to respond to their health needs as a matter of priority,” says John.



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