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Journals from Jan Term - NURS 298 Health Care in New Zealand

2013-02-07 Plunket Health Care Visit

Journal Entry – Plunket Health Care Visit

Breanne Hendricks


When I began my research for Plunket, I thought the place was going to be another low income organization based solely in Wellington. However, that was not the case and I was struck by how well this program works and how it supports families all over New Zealand. The most significant statistic that stuck out the most to me was, “Plunket delivers services to 92% of New Zealand families, and 4-6% do not have regular well-care providers.” This is an amazing accomplishment done by a non-profit community-centered organization which has been around for over 100 years. Plunket is constantly updating and renewing itself to keep up with the community. They have made remarkable leaps and bounds in technology, by starting a PlunketLine and a healthcare document system that allows mums and dads to write in progress notes that the midwife, general practitioner, or nurses can see and edit themselves. 

            Plunket has dedicated its services to families and single parents by teaching and helping them figure out parenting skills. They have set certain standards that rank a patient in certain categories. These categories are represented by first-time parents, necessities, smoker in household and the baby’s overall growth. The analysis is high need-long term, which is a health need that is enduring and requires ongoing interventions, education and support. High need-short term requires specific, short-term interventions to maintain or improve a baby's healthy outcome. Low need is health needs of a child that can be met by the parents.This group of families requires a low level of intervention to maintain or improve the baby’s health and can usually access the education and support they need from core contracts. The core contacts are designed the same way. The first core concept which is a 4-6 week program sends 4-5 Plunket nurses to visit the home. As the weeks increase, the nurses increase from 8-10 weeks and then a 12-16 week core contracts.

            The main observation that I found during the visit is how they mainly do all the visits at the patient’s home. The nurses visit anywhere from 5-7 babies a day on average and each visit lasts around 1-2 hours. However, out of those patients, half of them don’t show and/or don’t call.  I was not able to go out in the field with a nurse, but I did hear the feedback they had. Many of the nurses were very accustomed to people not showing up. They all were very positive and just let it roll off their backs because they are trying their best and that’s all they can do. These nurses are dedicated to what they do and many of them are even considered part of the person’s family. They have incorporated PlunketLine which allows mums to call in with questions they may have. They then are put on a queue list with an assigned number, depending on how urgent the question is and how young the babe is, which determines when they’ll get a call back. A midwife or nurse will then call the mum back and answer the question, making documentation of the phone call, and adding them as a contact if they are not already. I was able to visit PlunketLine and see first-hand how much dedication this organization has. The nurses and midwives answering the calls absolutely love what they do and are very patient with the new mums and always try to calm them down and tell them that no babe is normal, and you just have to let them do their thing, it will all be fine; they are very reassuring to the new mums. Community-based health care is an amazing achievement that New Zealand as a whole has done. Allowing the community to access health care questions when it’s convenient for them from either their homes or from a phone call, works wonderfully.

Back in the United States, we do not have an organization that comes close to this type of service New Zealand provides. The services the United States provides do not entail going to the person’s house once a week and weighing the babe, answering questions, giving shots etc. This type of procedure in the United States causes the patient to go into the doctor and pay a co-pay as well as any procedures that may be needed. The nurses in New Zealand do not charge for this, which is why they are able to see 92% of newborn babes. I was amazed on how everybody in that building was striving to try and make Plunket the best it could be. Even at the end, the tour guides where asking us for feedback on what they needed to improve on and what our overall thoughts were; they really care.

To sum it all up, I believe that the United States should begin a Plunket organization. After listening to the PlunketLine and listening to how many calls they got, I felt it was outstanding. For the most part the people who called in just need reassurance that everything is going to be all right. Implementing this organization in the United States will benefit the nervous parents of low income families as well as the nurses that work at hospitals and the community. I really enjoyed this health site visit and learned more than I could have imagined. I want to start a foundation like this in the United States and become more community oriented. If there is one thing I learned from this health site, it is community base health care is the answer.


Breanne (:


These pictures are from Wellington, where we visited Plunket. We went on a hike up to Mount Victoria and peered over the city. We all worked together and motivated each other to succeed just as Plunket and the community does.

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