New community health partnership announced for Northlanders

Northlanders with heart disease, diabetes and gout arthritis are set to get more support with the launch of a new partnership between three health charities and Mahitahi Hauora, Northland’s primary health entity.

The Heart Foundation, Diabetes New Zealand, Arthritis New Zealand, and Mahitahi Hauora have together appointed Tahi Tait (Tūhoe and Te Arawa) to engage and support people in the region who are living with one or more long-term conditions.

This initiative puts individuals and whānau firmly at the centre of the model of care, with health organisations and charities working together to achieve common health goals.

“The partners all have a common agenda, which is to make health information, products, and health services easier to access and more person-centred,” explains Tahi. “It’s a move away from the silo approach. For example, we know someone living with diabetes has a much higher risk of heart disease and gout arthritis, so it makes sense to have those conversations at the same time.”

He hopes to support people to better manage their long-term conditions, and provide them with tools that give control, choice and flexibility.

“I think those are the three key things,” he says. “If you give people a level of control over their long-term conditions and you give them products and services that provide choice and flexibility, then you’re moving in the right direction.”

Tahi will be based in Kerikeri but will spend much of his time on the road, reaching out to whānau all the way from Kaitaia to Whangārei.

Focus on equity

Mahitahi Hauora Long Term Conditions Team Leader Fiona Ross said the emphasis on equity was a great fit with the kaupapa of Mahitahi Hauora.

“Equity is central to the way we work at Mahitahi Hauora, and supporting better access to healthcare services for those in our community who need it most will be a focus of this partnership. The groups who are most at risk of not accessing healthcare services are the same ones who are most likely to be living with the detrimental effects long-term conditions can have on quality of life, unless these are well managed,” she said.

Heart Foundation Community Operations Manager Jamie Shirlaw says, “As Tahi engages with the people and whānau of Northland he’s able to have not only heart health conversations, but also talk diabetes and gout arthritis. Plus, he’ll be able to link them back to primary healthcare services where necessary.

“He has a really person-centred approach when supporting people, working alongside them to figure out what support they need,” Jamie adds. “Tahi is a strong advocate for health equity. He’s also worked at various health start-ups so is skilled at creating health outcomes when the roadmap isn’t always exactly clear.”

Strength in partnerships

Philip Kearney CEO of Arthritis New Zealand comments that he is delighted to see this pioneering initiative in action. “It is very much in the spirit of the evolving nature of community health services and an important recognition that we are strongest when working in active partnership.”

Liz Dutton, Service Development Manager for Diabetes NZ adds, “Tahi will be amazing in this new role. He has a kete of knowledge and personal experience of long-term conditions and knows exactly how to connect with people to help them in their health journey.

“This partnership in Northland will enable people with diabetes, heart conditions and gout arthritis in Northland to be able to access the expertise of all partner organisations.”

Tahi has previously held leadership roles at healthcare organisations and not for profits, including Manawanui, Waipareira Trust, the National Hauroa Coalition, and Te Roopu Awhina ki Porirua.