It has been a busy year, with attendance at 25 rural events ranging from Kerikeri to Ranfurly, and in conjunction with a wide range of rural groups.
Our service continues to find people needing information and direction to the health care they need, and it is heartenng to find almost all of them act on our advice to seek further medical opinion or treatment.
Stay Well has now formed a trust, involving 6 trustees, and I am very grateful to these people who have grasped the vision, and are willing to share their time, ideas, skills and experience in a variety of ways. Their input and guidance, as well as practical help has already proved to be very valuable. The Trust is in the process of gaining charitable status, which will have ongoing positive benefits for the service.
My wonderful team of over 50 checkers have once again responded to my request for their assistance in a variety of ways and places. Their willingness to give their time and energy so readily, is a real delight, and I feel humbled by their commitment and support. We have worked with appropriately trained local people wherever possible, and my nurse supporters locally have stepped in to fill the gaps where necessary. Thank you again for making yourselves available. Our Refresher Day for checkers in February creates a space to meet each other, and hear from suitable experts in the areas we are working, and this refresher will continue next year.
We gave future rural medical professionals a chance to be on farms for a few hours in August. One group of 25 second year medical students were spread over 5 farms, and the second group of nurses were hosted on three farms. There was also an opportunity to talk to them as a group on the specific challenges of the rural community, and how their health care could be more effective.
It has been a bonus to make connections with a range of professionals over the year, and I have often been able to maintain close contact with their organisations as a result. Beef and Lamb, Rural Support, A and P Show Committees, Waikato Health Board, Young Farmers Club, Vetora, Farmlands, and SMASH have all welcomed us at their events, as well as the North Island book launch of Doug Avery’s book “The Resilient Farmer” hosted by Paper Plus. Contact with Sports Waikato has added another dimension to our checks, when possible.
It is vital for us to be where rural people gather, and offer them the chance to raise awareness of their own health status and other wider health challenges we all face.
I would also like to publicly acknowledge the huge support I receive from my husband Warwick, who fills so many gaps, copes with my regular absences and puts up with the difficulties when Stay Well threatens to take over our lives. Without his understanding and strength, the project would not have survived, let alone gone from strength to strength.
Thanks again to all the people who help make it happen, and allow free fast and friendly health checks become part of our rural culture.
Stay Well NZ Project Leader
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