Teamwork the key to Advancing Diabetes Health Care


Mary Roberts who works at the Hinemoa Street Clinic enjoys her work in supporting people with diabetes management.

Helping people with diabetes is a matter of taking time to listen to what they want and supporting them to reach their goals. In her Mobile Maori Nursing/Diabetes Care Improvement role, Mary is based at the Hinemoa Clinic. Mary says she is very much part of a team taking a group approach to diabetes and cardio vascular management.

Sometimes as clinicians we think we know better – we may have an overweight person sitting in front of us and we know what we want them to do but it is not what they want to do. They are not ready; they are not at that stage yet.

So it’s about listening to what they want and supporting them on that journey, says Mary.

A group approach is taken to helping people and this is applied to the way services are implemented. Korowai has a large population with chronic care conditions so we have to work smarter hence group work involvement.

A diabetes nutrition hui is held monthly with Glenda the Diabetes Dietitian from Lakes and Mary organising the session. Diabetes education around making healthier food choices to lower blood sugar levels and manage weight control is discussed. The group could discuss healthy breakfast, what’s for dinner, looking at cheaper cuts of meat and discussing a healthier way to cook boil ups. Maori love to do things in groups, so we always start off with a bit of fun, whanaungatanga (introductions) and have lots of laughs. Lots of questions are encouraged but through all this good basic education in diabetes management is the key factor. The group are given recipes to take away & try and to feed back and get to taste the healthy cooking demonstrated. People also learn from each other’s experiences and there are lots of examples.

She says 20-plus people attend the hui at Korowai Aroha in Hinemoa Street, with funding coming from Lakes District Health Board.

Another successful group that began a couple years ago is ‘Wayne’s Wednesday Walks’ for people with diabetes and other chronic conditions. Wayne who is Mary’s husband also has diabetes so he leads the group each Wed morning. This group was formed with Diabetes NZ Rotorua branch and they meet at 9 am at the Waka by the Lakefront every Wednesday, and hikoi (walk)for an hour’s walk meandering through Ohinemutu pass by St Faith’s Church, and up and over hospital hill. The group caters for slow, medium and faster walkers. Anyone is welcome to attend.

Ten of the group walked in the 10 km section of the Rotorua Marathon this year. Mary says some of them had done very little walking when they joined the group, and now some are looking at the 20 km walk next year. Korowai Aroha paid half the $40 entrance fee and provided each walker with a tee-shirt. Our diabetes team is so proud of this group.

Another successful group set up is the Whakamana Mens group or commonly referred to as the big boys group. This group is about empowering these men to make some changes in their lives so they can go on to make changes within their whanau. A very successful pilot has been completed and this group has secured some funding to continue with further groups of big boys. Members of this group have recently built a community garden adjacent to the Korowai Aroha office in Fordlands. The idea is for the community to take ownership, grow vegetables and donate them back into the community. The group recently built a shed in which to store the utensils required for gardening.

To further help in developing the support network for diabetics, Mary also recently started an insulin support group so they can help each other.

The team’s work around diabetes also involves outreach clinics where recently a group of truckies were targeted. Cardio vascular risk assessments, were carried out and this was done in conjunction with the Police, ACC and Taupo District Council. To observe the police in action was an amazing experience. The police pulled in over 100 trucks, the nursing team discussed driver fatigue, BP, blood sugars discussed some health issues and the drivers were rewarded with a bag of goodies from ACC, a panini and a real coffee. This was a great experience to be part of and to work closely with other organisations.

The Korowai Aroha team has a large patient population of daibetes and also a large number in the pre diabetes state ready to tip over.

For Mary there’s always a challenge between the clinical part of the job and the social/economic aspect of our population. As clinicians we have to make them aware that their blood pressure is high, their blood sugars and cholesterol bloods are high, the cost of medication and what the complications of diabetes can do.

So while we have pass that information on, we also have to be aware of the economic state they’re in and can they cope with this; knowing that when they go home there’s going to be all these huge challenges at home and not enough money for this and not enough money for that.”

The diabetes cardio-vascular team has three nurses: Mary Roberts, Tim Ryan, and Evalyn Berryman, along with Jane Lane, Research & Data Analysis. Admin is Della Winiata, and Dean James who runs the Big Boys Group.

Anyone is welcome to join in any of the groups.

  • For more information, contact Mary Roberts at Korowai Aroha

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