Tuesday, May 21, 2024

The Wellbeing Hub doctors will see you now

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The health hub is a godsend for farmers too busy to get their regular check-ups.
Medical training needs to be centred in rural areas to address the severe shortage of doctors and other health professionals in rural areas.
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The Hauora Taiwhenua Health and Wellbeing Hub is a one-stop shop for keeping a farm’s greatest asset –– the farmer – in good shape.

Over the four-day Fieldays event, 40,000 visitors and around 50 different organisations come together in the hub.

The hub offers farmers the opportunity for an annual health and wellbeing check-up.  Within the hub, visitors can access health advice and support such as hearing checks, blood sugar readings, skin cancer checks, mental health checks and more.

The hub is known for its friendly welcome, supportive free health check services and an annual opportunity for a bit of self-care.

As many as one in four New Zealanders lives in a rural community, whether that be on the urban boundary or truly remotely. Working in the primary sector or living rurally on a lifestyle block or in a rural town, rural communities encounter challenges that city dwellers do not face.

Professor Garry Nixon, head of the rural section of the Department of General Practice and Rural Health at Otago University and a doctor in Central Otago, is well-versed in the key health concerns affecting rural New Zealanders.

Nixon said access to health services is a significant challenge for rural communities. 

“Distance is a barrier and rural people don’t get the same access to specialist care. Providing good and accessible healthcare in rural areas means doing things differently to the way they are done in town – not simply providing scaled-down versions of urban healthcare.” 

A major issue affecting the health and wellness of rural communities is the severe shortage of doctors and other health professionals in rural areas. Nixon said that to resolve this, training needs to be centred in rural regions.

“The international evidence tells us that if we want health professionals to work in rural areas, we need to train them there. 

“This needs a targeted central government initiative to work with the universities to create a rural clinical school or equivalent solution.”

He said improving access to services and health outcomes for rural Māori is an important priority.

 “Rural Māori have poorer health outcomes than both urban Māori and rural non-Māori.” 

To determine the extent of urban-rural health inequities in New Zealand, Nixon and his research team have developed a Geographic Classification for Health’(GCH).  This tool classifies residential addresses as either urban or rural from a health perspective and will better inform policy regarding rural health.

“The GCH will provide more accurate measures of the health of rural New Zealanders,” Nixon said. 

“We are already starting to see this in the data. For example, the GCH is demonstrating higher mortality rates for a number of conditions in rural areas, something that is not evident using older and generic urban-rural classifications.” 

What to expect at the hub

With farmers often finding it difficult to make time see a doctor, a check-up at the hub could be a life saver.

The hub offers free tests for hearing, blood sugar levels, hepatitis C, as well as skin cancer spot checks, blood pressure checks, atrial fibrillation checks, confidential mental health support discussions, and much more.

Be around to watch the next generation run the farm:

• Talk with the medical team: Talking to a health expert can be difficult but often once you have that initial conversation things can feel less overwhelming. Take the time to have that chat.

• Book appointments: With a wide range of medical experts and service providers on site, this is a one-stop shop to book those appointments you have been letting slide.

• Collect information: Tap your Fieldays Smart Band with Exhibitors to gather important information and connect with health and wellbeing exhibitors.

• Discover support networks: Having support networks around you and your whānau during a period of ill-health is often as vital as the medication you are prescribed. Don’t miss the opportunity to make those connections and extend those networks.

• Confidential mental health support: With one in five people affected by mental illness and addiction each year, there are many of us doing it tough right now. It’s important to ask for help if we’re concerned about ourselves or someone else. Visit the hub for information and support from professional mental health workers.

Suffering from depression or stress, or know someone who is? Where to get help:

LIFELINE: 0800 543 354
NEED TO TALK? Call or text 1737
SAMARITANS: 0800 726 666
YOUTHLINE: 0800 376 633 or text 234

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