It's not only your GP who can provide the community healthcare you need. Primary care is healthcare you or your whānau may receive in the community, rather than in a hospital. Your general practice, iwi or Māori health provider are good examples of primary care services.
General practice teams are made up of a wide range of roles. When you call for an appointment, you may be offered an appointment with any one of a number of different practitioners, depending on your problem.
Let's meet some of the friendly faces from across Manawatū who could help you or your whanaū next time you need support.
Tash, Sylvia, and Stacey are nurse practitioners at Feilding Health Care. They're registered nurses with years of experience and have undertaken considerable additional training to qualify. They provide many of the same services as a GP, and can diagnose medical conditions, support people living with long-term conditions, prescribe medication and advise on the best course of treatment.
Nurse practitioners may be able to provide you with in-person or telephone support on the day, or carry out telephone triage, asking you some questions about your medical concern and advising on the next best step. A face-to-face appointment may not always be necessary, so it could save you a trip if you're not feeling your best.
Your local pharmacy could provide you with the medication or health advice you need, without needing to make an appointment with your general practice.
James, a community pharmacist at Botanical Road Pharmacy in Palmerston North, encourages people to visit their community pharmacy and speak to the knowledgeable staff. They're normally available to have a chat any time, no appointment needed.
"They can help with your medical needs, talk to you about your prescriptions and medications, and can answer questions about your health conditions."
They also help manage and monitor long-term conditions such as asthma and diabetes, deliver some vaccinations such as flu and Covid-19, and review medications if you're taking a number at the same time.
At Cook Street Health Centre in Palmerston North, Fleur works as a health improvement practitioner (HIP), also known as a mātanga whai ora - an expert in the art of wellness.
She helps people achieve goals by providing support and follow-up for problems related to mental health and wellness.
Fleur is a registered nurse, but HIPs may also have backgrounds in psychology, social services, or counselling. Fleur often meets people at the Cook St clinic, helping them come up with a plan to work towards their goal and improve their wellbeing.
"You can usually see a HIP like me on the day you seek support. It's a free service, with no limits on the number of times you can come. We're based in general practice, Māori and iwi providers or other community services, providing brief intervention, and if necessary can connect you with ongoing support."
There are many other community-based healthcare roles that may make up your general practice team, including dieticians, podiatrists, occupational therapists, clinical exercise physiologists and healthcare assistants.
These practitioners work together to offer a holistic, whānau-centred service that looks after your health and wellbeing.