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Health Improvement Practitioners take time to connect and replenish

Laughter is often referred to as the best medicine, which Te Tumu Waiora’s Health Improvement Practitioners (HIPs) were treated with at an afternoon of connection and self-care held last month at the Design Lab. HIPs are experienced and registered mental health clinicians who work in general practice to support patients’ and staffs’ mental health and wellbeing. The wellbeing event was organised by Clinical Team Leads Deb Bradshaw and Brendan Sillifant to celebrate the HIPs’ hard work and give them an opportunity to catch up, rest and replenishment. There was a selection of fun, creative, and restorative activities for the HIPs to choose from, including massage therapy, laughing yoga, arts and crafts, mindfulness, aromatherapy, and meditation. “Our HIPs have been doing hard mahi in our busy general practices during an increasingly complex time in our health system. They work between Canterbury’s three Primary Health Organisations and are based in 43 practices spanning across the region from Oxford, North Canterbury to Ashburton, so it is important we make time to connect and have some fun together,” says Deb. “HIPs see up to 10 people per day and the most common presentations include support for depression, anxiety, and substance abuse. Since January they have seen more than 5000 patients and more than 10,000 appointments have been made.”

General Practitioner at Cashmere Health Rosie Laing says our HIP is a valued member of our team and brings a wealth of experience to the role. “It’s brilliant to be able to offer patients a warm handover and to set up an opportunity for them to work on their wellness issues. The team and our patients really appreciate having a HIP in the practice. They make a huge difference to our service and sustainability,” says Rosie. Health Improvement Practitioner Leanne Willett-Hall, who works at Kaiapoi Family Doctors, Good Street Medical Centre, Rangiora Family Doctors and Woodend Medical Centre found the event motivated her to explore different techniques to help her own wellbeing. “It was a relaxing afternoon to check in on my nervous system and stress levels. It is important to practice my own self-care and wellbeing, which is a huge part of our recommendations to patients in our Health Improvement Practitioner roles,” says Leanne. “Initially I felt vulnerable trying some of the activities, which helped me understand how patients feel when we ask them to step outside of their comfort zone and do something different.”

Leanne also appreciated the opportunity to connect with other HIPs, reflecting the role can feel isolating at times, so it was a comfort to be amongst fellow HIPs.

Health Improvement Practitioner Cara Tate who works at Pegasus and Silverstream Medical Centres in North Canterbury is new to the HIP team and found the event particularly useful to meet new colleagues and begin to build connections. “It was also a great reminder as HIPs to regularly engage in self-care activities that support our wellbeing. I enjoyed the laughing yoga and can see the benefits to help with stress and increase energy levels. I’m going to incorporate it into my morning routine,” says Cara. Health Improvement Practitioner Lynne Henderson, who works at the Kingdom Clinic and Piki Te Ora – Union and Community Health Centre, found the afternoon a lovely way to connect with other HIPs and take part in some fun and restorative activities.

“We don't often get time to see each other, so this was a great chance to catch up and have some fun,” says Lynne.


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