Robyn is a community health worker at Hora Te Pai Health Services, based at Paraparaumu on the Kapiti Coast, north of Wellington. Here Robyn tells us about the Hora Te Pai Exercise and Wellness Programme, which has become a popular programme for the local community.
Hora Te Pai exercise and wellness programme
Robyn’s role is to support people to improve their health and wellbeing. She loves that her job is so varied and interesting. In any one day, she can be advocating on a patient’s behalf, helping someone find a health or social service, set up or re-arrange an appointment, transport someone to a hospital appointment or support someone else to attend court.
She is clear about boundaries and doesn’t do any clinical assessment or answer clinical queries. She has completed a health care assistants paper, is a trained leader of the Stanford programme, and has over 20 years’ experience working in a range of roles in the health system.
Robyn knows the value of group programmes and has been involved with several group-based initiatives over the years. One of the most successful has been the exercise and wellness programme, known as the pool programme, run at the Coastlands Aquatic Centre in Paraparaumu, which Robyn runs alongside Catherine, one of the nurses at Hora Te Pai.
The pool programme
This programme was established two years ago, because of lobbying on the part of Robyn and other members of the Hora Te Pai team. They had identified the need for a healthy lifestyle programme that was free of charge and easily accessed by their patients.
The first programme was supported by the Kapiti District Council, with funding provided by the Kapiti Lions Club. The programme is now well established and operates as a partnership between Compass Health, Sport Wellington, Green Prescription, Hora Te Pai and the Kapiti Coast District Council.
The pool programme runs two evenings a week for 10 weeks. Participants have their weight, blood pressure and waist measurements taken at week one and week 10.
Each session includes time in the pool or walking. The pool activities include aqua ease, aqua jogging, spa and sauna time. Swimming lessons are also given to those who need them.
Once a week there is a talk or other non-pool activity, such as tai chi, yoga or Zumba. Visiting speakers have covered topics such as healthy homes, arthritis, gout and the importance of health screening (diabetes, breast, prostate). With each group, a nutritionist talks about healthy food options, and the group walks to a local supermarket to learn about reading food labels.
Most of the participants are patients registered with Hora Te Pai; however, anyone can be referred to the programme via green prescription.
Robyn credits the success of the programme to the teamwork and support of the two swimming coaches at the aquatic centre. She said that they have been very enthusiastic and do most of the day-to-day organisation.
The biggest benefit of the programme is the change in participants’ confidence and feeling of wellbeing. Most people’s blood pressure reduces and they lose weight. However, it is the sense of achievement and collegial support that really gives them a buzz – as one of the participants can testify.
Read Theresa's story about being involved in the pool programme.