Funding secured for two innovative new health roles

A government funding boost announced this week means two new Mauri Ora-Student Health roles—health coach and health improvement pracitioner—will become permanent.

Mauri Ora associate director Kevin Rowlatt says the two roles have been piloted this year and he is delighted they are to be funded permanently. The roles are funded under a scheme called Te Tumu Waiora, a new model of care that aims to provide rapid and targeted brief interventions for people in distress or needing behavioural advice and support.

The health improvement practitioner, who is a psychologist, has half hour appointments and works with students referred on by a nurse or doctor on an issue that is causing them distress. “The GPs and nurses love it because it gives them the ability to refer someone who is clearly in distress onto another professional who will be able to work with them.”

“It’s a really new initiative and a fresh approach to dealing with emotional distress,” he says. “Often students present with stress—perhaps academic, or something happening at home or financial and this model fits in beautifully with the need for something immediate and face to face.”

He says the health coach role is more like a navigator, helping connect students to other services that can help them, as the hardship fund or Disability Services. They can also help students develop strategies around lifestyle issues, such as healthier eating or stopping smoking.

Both roles work closely with Mauri Ora’s team of doctors and nurses. Waiting times for routine medical appointments at Mauri Ora are now down to four to six working days, an improvement that Mr Rowlatt says can be partially attributed to the new roles.