Healthline A Lifeline for Whānau - Extended Interview

Sept. 20, 2022, 8:43 p.m.

Te Hau Ora o Ngapuhi is now one of the biggest employers in Kaikohe with 77 staff employed at their Covid-19 Welfare call centre. Of these staff, 90% have never previously had employment.

"It's so exciting, it offers an opportunity. Whānau that live in remote areas, whānau that don't have a car, they can be employed" says Robyn Bacon, Ngāpuhi Call Centre Training Lead.

Some of their tasks are booking vaccinations for callers nationally, calling families that are isolated in homes and accommodations to do welfare checks and providing information regarding Covid-related matters.

Whakarongorau NZ, formerly Homecare Medical, is the biggest telehealth call centre employing and training workers to offer the Covid-19 Healthline support in NZ.

This service presented a unique opportunity to Māori and Pasifika people in 2021 when the rollout of the vaccines was implemented to all people, regardless of age and immunodeficiency status.

There is a general phone line, a Pasifika line and a Māori line which users can choose from, proving to be a great way to build a relationship.

"For me personally, Māori felt more comfortable speaking to their own, you get it quite regularly when you're on the phone...and that breaks down that barrier, it builds that trust and it makes them feel more relaxed", says Robyn.

Māori health providers and iwi are working alongside them in remote call centres, contracted to the Ministry of Health, to ensure Māori operators are available to provide this service.

Other Māori organisations/iwi that are operating telehealth services, since 2021, are Te Rūnanga o Te Rarawa, Te Arawa and Te Mahurehure.

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