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Community nurses go above and beyond

When Lisa Suapopo drops in on her clients, laughter and hugs ensue. 

The Pacific chronic mobile disease nurse for Tangata Atumotu Trust (TAT) see a minimum of 4 clients a day, to check their blood pressure, weight and temperature. She also carries out respiratory tests, and nutrition and medication checks.

Lisa has been a mobile nurse with Tangata Atumotu Trust (TAT) since February 2017. And to many of her clients, she is considered a friend or part of the family. 

Client Nela Sepuloni describes Lisa as her “oldest daughter”.

fullsizeoutput 1b97 “Your actual daughter might get jealous,” remarks Lisa. The pair chuckle.

Nela has been under the care of TAT for three years.

She says her life would have been a lot different, if not for their support. 

Over the course of a visit, Lisa takes Nela’s sugar levels, temperature and weight. Nela passes with flying colours, before the kettle is put on and a cuppa delivered to the living room.

“Some don’t have telephones, don’t have cars or food. They don’t have warmth and they don’t have shelter. So you’re not just a nurse but you’re actually a social worker too,” says Lisa.

Lisa drives Nela to general medical and hospital appointments, and has encouraged her to lead a healthier lifestyle, inclusive of more exercise and nutritious food.

Lisa says Nela has now taken responsibility of looking at ways to improve her lifestyle. 

“My health is important to me,” says Nela. 

“There has been a good improvement. We’ve been dealing with the things that have been overlooked in the past,” says Lisa.

Some of TATs clients are referred to the service by their families, while others come through via their GPs, practice nurses or other health providers.

Lisa is part of a three-strong team, including community health support worker, Vaili'a Afoa and Pacific mobile community nurse, Alo Collins.

“If it wasn’t for the team, a lot of our people would be struggling to get the support that they require,” says Lisa. 

She says they help identify the health risks, which may otherwise go untreated, and are helping to break the barriers that prevent many Pasifika people from getting medical treatment.

“For me, if you can make one change in someone’s life then hopefully that might have a flow on effect with other family members and make them aware of how they might be able to make a difference.”

Lisa has also arranged food baskets and for curtains on occasion.

“We are there to help in any way possible - and for some, it’s an opportunity to have interactions with somebody.” 

The service was free and was available to anyone over the age of 45 years and who has a long-term condition.