News

Health promotion is a key part of Age Concern New Zealand’s work in helping older people live a great later life, make the choices that best suit them and to access the services and help they need.

As part of our commitment to sharing our valued members’ stories, in this issue we caught up with Chrisanne Tarry, Health Promotion Advisor with this wonderful organisation to get some insight into what her role entails and why she is so passionate about her job.

Chrisanne discusses some of the social determinants of health that affect older people in Aotearoa and what health promotion initiatives/strategies Age Concern offers to address these and improve their health and wellbeing?

Hauora also asked about how Age Concern New Zealand was dealing with the challenges posed by Covid-19 and what initiatives it is running to help alleviate the stress of older people during the pandemic?

Hauora: Can you tell us a bit about your background and how and why you became interested in health promotion?

Chrisanne: Growing up, I was always interested in the health field but being squeamish deterred me from becoming a GP like my dad. Instead, what started my journey was tagging along to a friend’s sister’s prosthetic appointment. Becoming a prosthetist appealed because it seemed creative, rewarding, far from any blood, and I liked the idea of supporting patients long-term.

Shortly into my Bachelor of Health Sciences degree, I was introduced to the term health promotion. Health promotion challenged my thinking from wanting to improve people’s lives with prosthetics, to building more inclusive environments and eliminating barriers to participate in society.

Health promotion and population health made complete sense because it is creative, rewarding, far from any blood, supports people’s health and wellbeing, but also benefits a greater number of lives.

 

Hauora: I read on the Age Concern New Zealand website that you are ‘passionate’ about your work supporting older adults’ physical and mental wellbeing. Where did this passion stem from and how do you reflect this in your work?

Chrisanne: My passion began with a University internship with the Selwyn Foundation where I researched falls prevention strategies for older adults. My research, the opportunity to join a Forever Young strength and balance class and holding a focus group with Selwyn Village residents steered me towards a summer job as a carer at Terrace View Retirement Village in Ashburton. The residents at Terrace View made me smile every day.

After moving to Wellington in 2019, I got the amazing job of Health Promotion Advisor at Age Concern New Zealand. I am passionate about what I do because every day is different, and the challenges faced by older adults are so broad. I’m continually learning about initiatives on housing, mental wellbeing, nutrition, physical health, digital use, social connection, transport, employment, income, the environment, elder abuse, addiction, falls and more. It’s inspiring and motivating to be sharing this information, offering support, and promoting ways to improve older people’s lives.

 

Hauora: How long have you been the Health Promotion Advisor with Age Concern New Zealand and what does your job entail? What do you love most about your job?

Chrisanne: I have been the Health Promotion Advisor at Age Concern New Zealand for almost three years.

Key parts of my job include: organising trainings and providing health promotion support to Age Concern New Zealand staff; inspiring and sharing innovative health promotion ideas; developing and updating resources that promote healthy ageing or make health promotion delivery easier and reporting to the Ministry of Health.

 

I love supporting local Age Concern health promotion staff with health promotion delivery and inspiring new health promotion ideas. My colleagues are incredibly friendly, motivated and intelligent and I enjoy getting to hear success stories like “I had a shower this morning standing up, for the first time in five years”.

I also enjoy the opportunities to expand, improve and inspire successful and best health promotion practice. Various conferences, trainings and conversations spark new ideas which I can share with our Age Concern whānau.

One example is when I attended the “Rock the Boat” National Elder Abuse Conference in Australia. A talk on Artists in Care highlighted the remarkable impact creativity can have on physical and mental wellbeing. Since then, I’ve learned about sensory rooms, the health benefits of poi and arts-based research methods. This is just one example and I’m grateful to be continually inspired with new health promotion ideas.

Hauora: What are some of the social determinants of health that affect older people in Aotearoa and what health promotion initiatives/strategies do Age Concerns offer to address these and improve their health and wellbeing?

 Chrisanne: Older people are affected by housing, employment, income, ageism and many of the other social determinants of health. At a national level, we write submissions to ensure policies support the needs, dignity, rights and wellbeing of older adults.

At a national and local level, we attend and organise events and use social media, campaigns and newsletters to frequently speak out against ageism and issues affecting older people. World Elder Abuse Awareness Day on 15 June and International Day of the Older Persons on 1 October are key dates where we promote ageing well, and with dignity and respect.

All Age Concerns share information and answer a wide range of queries relating to housing and residential care, income, employment and government support, accessing health services and navigating the health and social systems.

Other health promotion activities delivered by local Age Concerns vary depending on their community. Programmes range from digital technology to healthy eating, physical activity and driver education.

 

Hauora: What sort of feedback do you get from those who participate in Age Concern New Zealand’s health promotion initiatives?

Chrisanne: We receive overwhelmingly positive feedback on our health promotion activities.

Common quotes we receive mention noticeable changes to a person’s lifestyle like: “My agility has improved. I can now step up steps one at a time” or “I can mow the lawn now and put my socks on in a sitting position”.

Majority of our health promotion programmes have a social connection component which proves to be of significant benefit, and we receive many quotes like: “I like the companionship of the group and go home happier” or “This class is why I get out of bed on Mondays”.

We also receive a generous amount of appreciation for the health promotion activities we offer. For example:

  • “Absolutely feel nourished, pampered, wiser from words of wisdom and the journeys we go on during the mindfulness sessions. Very relaxing and feel I have been kind to myself”
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  • “Reacquainted with Māori tikanga and te reo after years of being away from it”
  • “Learned a lot about nutrition that helps brain health”
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  • “Not too structured- music, korero, whenever the spirit calls. Friendly atmosphere where just listening can be great”
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  • “It was motivational to adopt better sleep/habits”
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  • “Thinking about getting a mobility scooter now so I am ready if I stop driving”
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  • “Great to know how to detect some of the many scams out there”
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Hauora: How is Age Concern New Zealand dealing with the challenges posed by Covid-19 and do you have any particular initiatives aimed at alleviating the stress of older people during this crisis?

Chrisanne: Covid-19 has highlighted issues like digital use and loneliness. Many Age Concerns offer digital technology support to older adults. Several Age Concerns also coordinate an Accredited Visiting Service to connect people who feel lonely with a volunteer visitor.

In 2020, Age Concern New Zealand also launched the Coalition to End Loneliness. This has brought like-minded organisations together, to share ideas, resources, and collaboratively end loneliness. Covid-19 has increased conversations on loneliness and grown momentum to connect people and communities.

Age Concern is in 40 locations across Aotearoa and so to alleviate stress, we reminded people to ask for help and to contact Age Concern if they had any concerns. We promoted our free phone number (0800 65 2 105) which was able to connect people to their local Age Concern and was set up because of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Local Age Concerns also offered a range of services like welfare checks, shopping and medication delivery services, phone-a-friend or pen pal services, care package deliveries, online activities, hardcopy and e-newsletter mailouts, along with answering hundreds or thousands of calls.

To support mental and physical wellbeing we helped develop the Healthy For Life tv programme and shared tips like ‘keeping a routine’. One example of how Age Concern New Zealand practiced this was at 3pm every weekday, we zoomed in to do the afternoon Stuff quiz. Sometimes we even set themes like ‘Come with a silly hat’ or a DIY face covering.

 

Hauora: What is your ultimate goal as Health Promotion Advisor with Age Concern?

Chrisanne: My main goal is to keep growing and inspiring new health promotion services offered by local Age Concerns so all older people can thrive physically, mentally, socially, financially, digitally and culturally.

My goal aligns with the Better Later Life – He Oranga Kaumātua 2019-2034 strategy which has five key areas for action:

  • Achieving financial security and economic participation
  • Promoting healthy ageing and improving access to services
  • Creating diverse housing choices and options
  • Enhancing opportunities for participation and social connection
  • Making environments accessible
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I hope to help make a difference to these key action areas and ultimately improve the health and wellbeing of older people in Aotearoa.

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Environment, News

In part one of a special series in the Hauora newsletter, as COP26 comes to a close in Glasgow, Scotland, we look at repeated warnings and recent calls to action to combat climate change, including the São Paulo Declaration.


“Planetary health science convincingly demonstrates that the ongoing degradation of our planet’s natural systems is a clear and present danger to the health of all people everywhere,” says Sam Myers, director of the Planetary Health Alliance.

 

“The Covid-19 pandemic is a turning point within each of our lifetimes and must serve as a moment of transition for humanity. To protect human health and all of life on Earth, we will need to, and can, effect urgent, deep, structural changes in how we live.” 

 

The Principal Research Scientist in Environmental Health at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, and lead author of The Lancet letter made the comment upon the launch in October of the latest call to action to save our planet — the São Paulo Declaration, which calls for a ‘fundamental shift in how we live on Earth’.

This shift which the Declaration calls the ‘Great Transition … will require rapid and deep structural changes across most dimensions of human activity’. The Declaration outlines what actions are necessary to achieve ‘a just transformation to a world that optimises the health and wellbeing of all people and the planet’.

Signed by more than 250 organisations around the world, including the Health Promotion Forum of NZ, the Declaration was launched in the build up to COP26 (Conference of the Parties) in Glasgow, Scotland from October 31 to November 14.

 

HPF’s Executive Director and Co-Chair of the IUHPE Global Working Group on Waiora Planetary Health and Human Wellbeing Sione Tu’itahi says the Declaration is a ‘global effort of the planetary health community, calling on all of humanity to collaborate and elevate its consciousness towards a more equitable and resilient post-pandemic world’.

 

With much of the world now being ravaged by extreme weather events caused by climate change; Floods, wildfires, heatwaves, drought, and cyclones leaving trails of disaster, killing hundreds, displacing millions, and causing damage worth billions, the world’s chances of survival are getting slimmer and slimmer! Poor and marginalised communities are often the worst affected by loss of lives and livelihoods.

 

‘Our planet is changing before our eyes from ocean depths to mountain tops,” warned UN Secretary General, Antonio Guterres in his opening speech at COP26. “From melting glaciers to relentless, extreme weather events. Sea level rise is double the rate it was 30 years ago, oceans are hotter than ever, and getting warmer faster. Parts of the Amazon rainforest now emits more carbon than they absorb.”

In an unprecedented call to action in mid-September this year, 231 medical journals around the world came together to publish the same editorial, titled “Call for emergency action to limit global temperature increases, restore biodiversity, and protect health”.

Led by a group of chief editors from world-leading journals such as The Lancet, The BMJ and The New England Journal of Medicine, as well as the Canadian Medical Association Journal, the editorial stated: “The greatest threat to global ­public health is the continued failure of world leaders to keep the global temperature rise below 1.5℃ and to restore nature.”

The clarion call couldn’t be any clearer – ACT NOW, before it’s too late!

 

Year after year, the warning bells have been sounded! COPs have come and gone, conferences and summits have been held, commitments have been made and plans have been written. Yet as US President Joe Biden surmised at COP26, ‘… we’re still falling short. There’s no more time to hang back or sit on the fence or argue amongst ourselves’.

 

Scientists have been warning about the ‘clear link’ between natural disasters and climate change for years.

 

The Inter-governmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), established by the UN in 1989, has released numerous reports and warnings about the potential impacts of climate change and the response options.

 

Ominously its most recent report in August issued a “code red” for humanity.

 

The report predicts the average global temperature is likely to rise by more than 1.5°C within the next two decades, going over the limit settled in the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement.

 

Another call to action was sounded at the world health promotion conference co-hosted by HPF and the International Union for Health Promotion (IUHPE) in Rotorua in April 2019 where two legacy documents the ‘Waiora – Indigenous Peoples’ Statement for Planetary Health and Sustainable Development’and the  ‘Rotorua Statement WAIORA: Promoting Planetary Health and Sustainable Development for All’ were issued by participants.

The documents call on the global community to urgently act to promote planetary health and sustainable development for all, now and for the sake of future generations. The vital role of indigenous knowledge in helping to combat this crisis was highlighted in the Indigenous legacy document in which the health promotion community and the wider global community are called on ‘to make space for and privilege Indigenous peoples’ voices in this arena’.

 

Mr Tu’itahi who co-chaired the conference said: ‘Unity of thought and action is key. We must work together as one human family at the local and global level …  we will continue the dialogue at the IUHPE2022 Conference in Montreal, May 2022.”

It’s time to heed these warnings and calls to action! No more procrastinating!

As the Special Adviser to the UN Secretary-General on Climate Action, Selwin Hart said in a recent interview on the UN website:We have a very narrow window of opportunity to prevent the worst impacts of climate change. Climate action is not something that can be delayed for 10, 20 or 30 years. We must take urgent and ambitious action now.”

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News

The health sector has rallied behind the Smokefree Aotearoa 2025 Action Plan with 100 academic, health sector and community organisations signing an open letter urging the Government to implement the plan in full.

 

Every DHB in the country has now signed the Health Coalition Aotearoa’s Open Letter of Support adding their collective voice to those calling to end tobacco harm in New Zealand.

 

“The action plan is more than a game-changer, it’s a game-ender for tobacco harm in New Zealand,” Health Coalition Aotearoa Chair Boyd Swinburn said.

 

“Adding the collective support of the DHBs to the broad list of organisations and individuals calling for the action plan to be implemented shows the strength of the proposals put forward.

 

“It is unusual to have this level of unanimous support from across the community and health sector, health experts and professionals, and government.”

 

The DHB heads join more than 80 health professional, NGO and academic organisations already signed up in support of the Smokefree Aotearoa 2025 Action Plan.

 

HCA Smokefree panel chair Sally Liggins says Verrall’s action plan will protect and entire generation from the exploitation from the tobacco industry.

 

“The proposed Smokefree Action Plan will introduce new policy options while making smoking products less available and, importantly, less addictive,” Liggins said.

 

“Cigarette smoking kills 14 New Zealanders every day and two out of three smokers will die as a result of smoking. This action plan outlines a path for government and communities to work together to end the suffering caused by tobacco.”

 

The open letter is available for all to sign and is planned to be presented to the Associate Health Minister Ayesha Verrall ahead of the government response to the action plan.

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