The West Coast of the South Island of New Zealand is a special place, remote and beautiful, with a strong community spirit. But it is a challenge to provide equitable access to health services for a small population scattered along the ribbon of land between the mountains and the Tasman Sea.
A large team of final year Bachelor of Nursing students worked with the West Coast District Health Board, under the supervision of Amy Simons, Cynthia Mullens and Jean Ross. The students identified, investigated and addressed various health issues in the small and large communities within the district, from Karamea in the north to Haast in the far south:
- Mental health: A poster for the youth club at Karamea promotes access to mental health services. A fridge magnet raises awareness of ante-natal and post-natal depression and encourages those affected to seek help in Whataroa. And a brochure and a coaster provide information about relevant websites and apps so that help is only a few clicks away.
- Children's cycle safety: A "stay seen, stay safe" poster encourages children to wear high visibility vests when cycling, to help keep children safe and encourage more children to cycle to school in Westport.
- Social isolation of elderly: A penpal project was designed to help decrease loneliness among Greymouth's elderly.
- Dental health: Stickers for a lunchbox, fridge or pantry encourage Hokitika youth to eat healthy foods. A submission to the mayor of Westland District Council advocates for fluoridation of water supply for Fox Glacier, a cost-effective measure to reduce tooth decay.
- Caregivers of the elderly: With no local rest homes at Franz Josef, care of the elderly often falls to family members. A brochure raises awareness of existing support services.
The resources which the students developed are to be distributed to the communities they sought to help.