Making healthcare accessible for vulnerable children

Starship Community has opened a health clinic on the grounds of Point England School, giving children in the low socio-economic community direct access to health care in their own backyard.

Whare Hauora is a child, family and practitioner-friendly clinic which provides a space for delivering health services in schools for our most vulnerable children. It was launched by Starship Community in partnership with the Starship Foundation and the school. With the ability to provide outreach clinics, the Whare Hauora enables care to be delivered in the community for the community.

“We know that the health and education of children are inter-dependent," says Starship Community Operations Manager Paula Seymour. "Positioning health services alongside education increases access to healthcare and encourages positive health and education outcomes for children.

“Children receive prompt assessment and treatment, reducing the number of hospitalisations for conditions such as skin conditions and respiratory illnesses. The accessibility of the clinic also has the potential to reduce travel costs and the need for caregivers to take time off work to attend appointments at Starship" adds Paula.

"We are very grateful for the support of the Starship Foundation, Barfoot & Thompson and to Point England School for sharing our vision and joining us in this wonderful collaboration."

Whare Hauora is the brainchild of Nurse Consultant Sarah Williams, who saw first-hand the need for appropriate spaces for healthcare within primary schools, and has worked on the project from conception through to reality.

"Starship Community currently provides care in homes and schools. The facilities available in schools are often not ideal for delivering high-level care,” says Sarah. “Due to increasing student rolls and demands on schools there is currently a lack of fit for purpose spaces for health workers to deliver care.”

"Having the Whare Hauora means we can deliver more comprehensive and timely health services in schools with a focus on early intervention and support for the management of long term conditions” adds Sarah. "Since the first facility was established at Panmure Bridge School in 2018, we have seen a noticeable decrease in health related absenteeism suggesting a correlation between increased accessibility to healthcare and school attendance.

Point England School Principal Russell Burt says, "Our lovely nurses began catering to the needs of our tamariki in the back of the school library then they had to move into a condemned prefab unit. Because of the combined generosity of all the parties involved, we now have a beautiful purpose-built facility that promotes community health – a fantastic outcome for all."

Whare Hauora visits are currently available to pupils of Point England Primary School and Panmure Bridge School, both of which are classified as decile one schools where many children experience high health needs. 

Peter Thompson, Managing Director for Barfoot & Thompson says, “Caring for our community is a cornerstone of our family-owned business and Starship is a natural partner for us to support given its tremendous and on-going impact on the health and well-being of children.

"As funders of the initial Whare Hauora building launched in 2018, we've seen how this innovative facility has delivered easily accessible healthcare services alongside education in the school environment for some of our most vulnerable children. We’re excited to be part of the launch of the second such facility that will no doubt help to create better health and brighter futures for our children at the community level."

The unit features a small waiting area, a private treatment space where children are seen and office space at the rear for administration. It has appealing décor that is child friendly, measures 11.34 metres long and 2.91 metres wide and is similar shape to a shipping container, making it easily re-locatable.

Starship Foundation's Five-Star Partner Barfoot & Thompson sponsored the build, fit-out and installation of the Whare Hauora. The healthcare service is funded and provided by Starship Community which is part of Auckland District Health Board, and the school provides the physical location and utilities. This project and shared vision has resulted from a true collaborative effort between health, education and business.

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