Health provider to continue

HEATHER SIMPSON
Last updated 10:30 22/03/2014

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A Maori health and social services provider in Blenheim has moved to assure the public it is not closing.

Rumours circulated around Maataa Waka Ki Te Tau Ihu Trust's future after it joined five other Maori providers in Marlborough Nelson to form the Maori Health Provider Coalition Te Piki Oranga.

General manager Gail MacDonald said health and social service streams would be funded and delivered by the coalition from Maataa Waka's Blenheim base.

Maataa Waka will remain as an advocacy service to deliver other community programmes she said.

It employs 18 health and social service staff, including social workers, nurses, community health workers and two administration staff.

"Ninety per cent of staff have been offered a position in the new entity,"she said. "The biggest impact is we will have to downsize our administration staff."

Two vital programmes funded by the Ministry of Social Development will continue to be provided by Maataa Waka.

The court-accredited stopping violence programme which provides alternatives to violence for solving problems and practical tools to express and manage relationships will continue to run.

Fresh Start Services in collaboration with Child Youth and Family and Police Youth Aid will continue to provide intensive one-on-one supervision and support to rangatahi and their whanau (family) who have entered the youth justice system. This includes help with education, vocational training or work experience and activity-based day programmes.

However, she said there was "no guarantee" an exercise programme for kaumatua (older people) to help beat social isolation would still run.

"We will fight for the community as much as possible," she said. "We can put our thoughts forward to the coalition but it is the health board that makes the final decision."

The coalition will come into effect on July 1. Maataa Waka clients have been contacted seeking their permission to transfer their details over.

The new coalition centres on a Whanau Ora (family framework) to tackle chronic intergenerational illness affecting Maori people. Community health workers will now be called navigators, directing patients to primary or secondary health or leading people to education, justice or housing.

Maataa Waka had always followed a similar model and clients will see little difference in service delivery, Mrs MacDonald said.

"The advantage of the coalition is there will be a consistent service across the region. At the moment there are seven providers all using their own systems with different contracts.

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"The Whanau Ora framework is outcomes-focused to encourage Maori to take ownership of their health."

- The Marlborough Express

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