News Briefs

1 May 2012

News briefs including: More nurses in schools/ Oz aged care package get nurses’ backing/  Innovative RNFSA and HCA training underway/ NZ hospital productivity ‘bucks trend’/ Toolkit to improve elective patient flow/  New ACC patient handling guidelines/ Strong cultural life enhances Māori elders

More nurses in schools

The government is to put nurses into more lower socio-economic schools as part of a new youth mental health package announced recently.

Nurses are already funded to work in decile one and two schools to offer youth development checks and primary health care under the School-Based Health Services package launched in 2008.

The move to increase funding in school health services by $10 million over four years by moving into decile three schools has been welcomed by the New Zealand Nurses Organisation.

Jill Clendon, an NZNO policy advisor, said it believed the new funding would have a positive impact on reducing health care disparities.

Oz aged care package get nurses’ backing

An Australian government injection into the age care workforce is being viewed by Australian nursing unions as a victory for low paid nursing and care staff.

In late April, Prime Minister Julia Gillard announced $1.2 billion over five years to “help employers improve working conditions for staff” as part of a $3.7 billion aged care overhaul package.

Lee Thomas, secretary of the Australian Nursing Federation, said the package was a “real morale boost” to aged care nursing, with the ANF campaigning for the past three years for improved wages, staffing, and skills mix in the aged care sector.

”Currently, nurses in aged care are being paid between $168 and $300 a week less than their colleagues in public hospitals – with a critical shortage of 20,000 nurses.”

Free dementia symposium offered

A free, day-long symposium on dementia is being offered to nurses and other health professionals in May during the Alzheimers New Zealand conference.

The Ministry of Health and Pub Charity sponsored symposium in Wellington is designed for the primary health care sector and counts towards professional development hours.

The symposium will include dementia assessment, developing management plans, early detection, and accessing dementia services. The free symposium is being held on the fourth day of the Future Faces of Dementia conference. Attendees need to register at <b>>

Innovative RNFSA and HCA training underway

Tertiary training for the new primary care practice assistant role is underway, with 19 students in the first Health Workforce New Zealand (HWNZ)-funded cohort.

The demonstration trial of the health care assistant type role will see the PCPAs working in primary care settings to assist in nurse-led clinics, recording clinical measurements, and treatment room preparation under the direction and delegation of a GP or practice nurse.

HWNZ has also funded a second cohort of experienced theatre nurses to commence registered nurse first surgical assistant postgraduate training with clinical placements in five district health boards and several private hospitals. The final evaluation report of the initial successful cohort of 13 RNFSAs is to be released shortly, and HWNZ said work was being undertaken to develop a model of non-HWNZ funded programmes for subsequent cohorts. The RNFSA training involved not only an advanced practice role in the operating theatre but also pre and post-operative patient care and co-ordination.

NZ hospital productivity ‘bucks trend’

Hospital productivity and efficiency in New Zealand rose late last decade, contrary to international views on trends in other developed countries, according to Victoria University health researchers.

The Health Services Research Centre study looked at the number of inpatients, outpatients, and emergency department patients treated for each district health board dollar spent between 2007 and 2009.

It found productivity rose by 3 to 5 per cent over the three-year period and also analysed hospital efficiency measures in technological change, technical efficiency, and in staff and resources allocation, which all showed improvement.

Study leader Dr Jaikishan Desai said the team was surprised by the findings and checked the analysis using three different methods, but tall three methods confirmed the significant improvements in productivity and efficiency. He said there was already international interest in the findings because they ran counter to widely held views that hospital productivity was falling in developed countries. The study did not look at patient outcomes.

Toolkit to improve elective patient flow

Twenty case studies on how to reduce waiting times for diabetes services to cataract surgery are included in a newly released toolkit for District Health Boards.

The nearly 120-page toolkit has been produced by the Ministry of Health and contains case studies in ten strategic areas aimed at improving quality, increasing access, and reducing waiting times for elective patients.

Director-General of Health Kevin Woods said case studies and strategies had been developed and delivered by local clinical teams, and the improvements included were “evidence-based”, “highly replicable”, and had resulted in “measurable improvements for patients”.

The four themes to emerge in the case studies were the need for “whole-of-system thinking” as electives could not be delivered in isolation; “working smarter” by making the best use of clinical team resources (including more nurse-led and primary care managed services); improving the surgical experience for patients; and providing a culture that supported service improvement.

The case studies were written by managers, nurses and doctors and include contact details. The toolkit can be downloaded from the ministry’s publications page at

New ACC patient handling guidelines

A new set of patient handling guidelines has been released by ACC in a bid to reduce back injuries in the health sector.

ACC reports that health sector workers currently lodge around 20 claims per week for back injuries and this was expected to rise as the population ages and grows heavier.

The Moving and Handling People: the New Zealand Guidelines 2012 target health workers and carers, their managers and the people who design health care facilities.

The guidelines are the result of nearly three years of work by University of Auckland emeritus professor David R. Thomas and Waitemata DHB moving and handling co-ordinator Anne McMahon.

A copy of the guidelines can be downloaded at

Strong cultural life enhances Māori elders

Octogenarian actively involved in their marae and cultural practices have a higher quality of life, according to a groundbreaking study by University of Auckland researchers.

The study found that being connected to their traditional community, spending time on a marae, frequency of marae visits, and knowledge of culture were all shown to enhance well-being in elderly Māori study participants.

Also older Māori were busier, in comparison to older non-Māori participants, as they age because of community links and becoming more involved in cultural roles in for example tangihanga (funerals).

These are some of the key findings of “Life and Living in Advanced Age; a Cohort Study in New Zealand” (LILACsNZ): Te Puāwaitanga o Ngā Tapuwae Kia Ora Tonu — the first large-scale, longitudinal cohort study of those in advanced age in New Zealand and the only to include a large number of indigenous people. The study aims to find out what leads to successful ageing in those already very old.

“Although other studies have shown the correlation between older Māori and their involvement with their own community, this is the first study ever to show this correlation through strong quantitative numerical data,” says Professor Ngaire Kerse, Head of General Practice at the Faculty of Medical and Health Sciences.

The LILAC study began in 2010 with researchers recruiting over 510 non-Māori aged 85 years and 420 Māori between the ages of 80 and 90 years from the Bay of Plenty and Rotorua regions.

Kerse said general there were relatively low levels of depressive symptoms and high life satisfaction in the cohorts. Other findings from the first two years of the study show that 92 per cent of participants in the trial took their prescribed medication; 90 per cent had no cognitive impairment; and 67 per cent were still driving; and the average grip strength was close to or better than expected for this age group: 30.5kg for men and 19.1 kg for women.

As expected, cardiovascular disease (CVD) was quite prevalent with 67 per cent of Māori and 63 per cent of non-Māori having established heart disease or stroke. The minority took cholesterol-lowering medications (about 40 per cent of Māori and 37 per cent of non-Māori).

“We found food is important to successful ageing and living with others was associated with better nutrition,” says Professor Kerse.


WHANGAREI HOSPITAL 1965 class reunion, Labour Weekend 2012. Contact Coralie Zimmer (nee Rountree) 725 State Highway 14, RD 9 Maunu, Whangarei

0179. Email

DUNSTAN HOSPITAL 150th celebrations, 5-7 August 2013. Expressions of interest to or Central Otago Health Inc, Box 355, Alexandra.

Mum and daughter graduate together

Mature student Ramona Hellesoe had some reservations when her daughter Amber persuaded her to join her in a foundation studies nursing programme four years ago.

But she emerged confident that the mum and daughter team could succeed in their studies, and earlier this year, the two graduated with their nursing degrees from Whangarei’s NorthTec school of nursing.

The pair are the fourth and fifth members of their family to become nurses and opted to join the profession mostly because they always enjoyed helping people.

Amber is currently a nurse at Whangarei Hospital’s Ward 1 and Ramona is working at the North Haven Hospice, where she spent time during her clinical practicum.

Ramona said sharing the study experience with her daughter, where they were able to constantly encourage and support one another, was something they would always cherish.

She urged people to have faith in their own abilities and to grab hold of opportunities.

“The world is your oyster. If you don’t try, you will not succeed,” she said