Plunket always there for new mums and newcomers

Posted at 1:54pm Monday 01 Jul, 2019

With the local population rising rapidly as development increases, local Plunket groups and clinics are seeing an increase in demand for their services.

For newcomers to the area, sometimes without family close by, Plunket provides a vital source of support, guidance and information for babies, preschoolers, mums and families.

Ann Neha is a relief Plunket nurse who covers all of Northland and is currently working in the Wellsford and Mangawhai areas. She is standing in while Wellsford nurse Rachael Turner is on maternity leave until January and helping out at Mangawhai until a new nurse is appointed to replace Cynthia Reay, who recently left to become a clinical nurse consultant.

She says there's been a definite increase in new babies locally, and several new nurses are being appointed, so it's important for mums to know that help is at hand throughout the region.

“I would say to them that they're not alone,” she says. “The support is out there.”

Plunket nurses make home visits and run regular clinics at their bases in Wellsford, Warkworth and Mangawhai, as well as in Kaiwaka, Maungaturoto and Paparoa. They also work closely with other health providers and social agencies to ensure families are getting the right help.

“We have a good rapport with GPs and other health services, we cover a pretty wide front in the community,” Ann says. “And midwives share the information, too.”

Cherrie Christy-Hita is one of only 15 Plunket Kaiawhina, or specialist Maori community health workers, in the country. She covers Wellsford, Kaiwaka, Bream Bay, Maungaturoto, Paparoa and Dargaville.

“I'm more the support, with mother craft and old school Plunket skills,” she says. “I look at ages and stages of baby development and prepare families for different milestones in growth.

“It's about making sure our families are enrolled with services, knowing they have a choice and connecting whanau with whanau.”

Louise Hayward has just joined Plunket as an extra nurse working with clinical nurse leader Wendy Turner covering Warkworth and the surrounding area, including Snells Beach, Kaipara Flats, Matakana and Leigh. A former emergency and maternity nurse, she is passionate about connecting with local mums and letting them know they are not alone. She says she tries to draw on her own experiences, not only professionally, but as a mother and someone who's experienced postnatal depression.

“A lot of women don't even know they have it, and it's still sometimes seen as quite taboo to talk about it,” she says. “It's important to get on their level and talk. Plunket's amazing, and I really would like to make a difference.”

As well as the nurses' home visits and clinics, Plunket volunteers run a range of family support activities, including coffee groups in Warkworth, a playgroup in Wellsford and a toy library in Mangawhai.

Anyone wanting to know more or get involved can contact the free 24-hour Plunket number, 0800 933 922, or local Plunket workers Ann Neha (Wellsford and Mangawhai) on 027 675 3408; Cherrie Christy-Hita (Kaiawhina) on 027 675 3317; or, for Warkworth, Wendy Turner on 027 275 3098 or Louise Hayward, 027 282 3987.


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