Board adopts Whanau Ora

By Anne-Marie Emerson of the Wanganui Chronicle -
Bill English receives a Hongi by Pita Sharples Minister of Maori affairs during the Whanau Ora launch at Te Puni Kokiri in Wellington. Photo / File
Bill English receives a Hongi by Pita Sharples Minister of Maori affairs during the Whanau Ora launch at Te Puni Kokiri in Wellington. Photo / File

Whanganui District Health Board has formally adopted Whanau Ora - and it will benefit the entire Wanganui community.

The DHB adopted Whanau Ora at its board meeting on Friday, but only after robust discussion which saw an addition to the recommendation that meant Whanau Ora would be available to all residents in the WDHB area, not just Maori.

Some board members also asked for specific outcomes to be put in place so the success of Whanau Ora could be measured.

Whanau Ora is a sometimes-controversial programme whose core idea is to empower and support communities and extended families and whanau within the community context, rather than individuals within an institutional context. It was a cornerstone of the coalition agreement between the National Party and the Maori Party.

In December 2012, the DHB contracted Mihi Ratima to develop a concept paper to help the DHB adopt Whanau Ora locally. Dr Ratima's paper was presented at yesterday's meeting.

The DHB's director of Maori health, Gilbert Taurua, said Whanau Ora in the hospital was about working in a way that was more inclusive of families.

"It's about working more effectively with both patients and their families for better outcomes." Board member Michael Laws asked for practical examples of Whanau Ora in action.

"Getting families involved? That just sounds like simple good management to me.

"It's all very well being nice and sensitive, but I want to see how this addresses serious health issues.

"How do we stop Maori from eating too much and smoking too much, and how do we get them to the doctor before it's too late?" Mr Laws said.

Board member Nancy Tuaine said Te Oranganui was doing a lot of the ground work of Whanau Ora in Wanganui.

"Practical things are happening. This morning two ladies went to the Splash Centre to learn how to swim - they're both 150kg. Before Whanau Ora that couldn't have happened, because there wasn't someone to take them there and teach them how to swim."

Ms Tuaine said there were practical ways the hospital could help include families in patient care.

"The hospital's visiting hours start at 2pm, but the doctors do their rounds in the mornings. How are families supposed to be involved in their loved ones' care if they can't even talk to the doctor?"

Board member David Warburton wanted to know the success of Whanau Ora would be measured.

"I believe it has value if it has defined outcomes in defined timeframes," Mr Warburton said.

Mr Laws agreed, and asked that a resolution be introduced calling for criteria to measure the outcomes of Whanau Ora.

Board member Ray Stevens said the board's resolution should specifically state that Whananu Ora applies to all, not just to Maori.

"If the board agrees to the concept of Whanau Ora, why not apply it to all?"

The decision to adopt Whanau Ora to all residents in the WDHB area was passed unanimously, along with Mr Laws' resolution.

The DHB also approved an independent review of Huarahi Oranga, its Maori Health strategy.

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