Patients reap the benefits of general practice-based wellbeing support

In a world where we’re rushing here, there, and everywhere, it can be challenging to find the time and the right person to talk - kōrero with about our wellbeing.


Health Coach at Barrington Medical Centre (MC), Olivia Maisey, says this is where Te Tumu Waiora – an initiative that puts wellbeing, mental health and addiction support at the heart of general practice – can help.


Te Tumu Waiora Health Improvement Practitioners (HIPs) and Health Coaches (HCs) are located within general practice and are available to spend time with people to talk over concerns and plan how to manage their health better. “As a HC I kōrero with people and offer advice, information and skills to support behaviour and lifestyle changes to improve people’s physical and mental health,” says Olivia.


“The overwhelming response from patients has been gratefulness – that they can speak to me at no cost, and they’re not being rushed through things, such as cholesterol and blood test results.”


Olivia says people often feel less embarrassed and judged when talking to someone they don’t know, so they are more honest and open if the initial plan hasn’t worked, and it needs to be revised.


“I’ve worked in various health promotion roles and studied public health, so I have a good knowledge of what other services are available to help with mental health, addiction, nutrition, becoming smoke-free, exercise, kaupapa Māori health, wellbeing and social needs.”


Olivia and the HIP have run a series of group sessions called ‘mood, food and mobility’ aimed at older women. The sessions covered the five ways to wellbeing, dealing with grief, and included guest speakers from Sport Canterbury and Senior Chef.


“The sessions have finished, but the members still meet as they have formed friendship, which is great for their social wellbeing.”


“We’re aiming to target other groups, such as men with diabetes and have also done some cultural development sessions with the practice team, starting with te reo Māori and translating signage to be more inclusive.”


Recently Olivia helped one woman lower her cholesterol and increase her overall wellbeing. She’s now learnt how to read food labels; exercising is no longer a chore and she’s got her husband on board too.


Another patient was having trouble sleeping and was concerned about her weight. Just the simple gesture of Olivia asking her how she was and having the time to listen to the answer and offer help was all she needed to kick start a wellbeing plan.

Olivia says that the HIPs and HCs are on hand and familiar to practice patients. “I don’t have to explain where to find me because I’m at their practice, which makes everything simple and familiar for them.”


Barrington MC Practice Manager Claire Hannington says the practice team introduced Te Tumu Waiora as they could see the increasing need among their patients for more wellbeing and mental health support.


“It has freed up our GPs and nurses to concentrate on other areas of general practice and it’s reassuring to hear patients say they are progressing and feeling better due to the time spent with the HIP or HC,” says Claire.


Clare says, it works so well for everyone because the service is onsite, accessible, and free. Our patients have been positive about it because it gives them a definite way forward.