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Healthier homes project expands into other parts of the house

A Warm our Whare initiative, which saw 1000 Waikato homes insulated within a 30km radius of Hamilton and in the South Waikato district, has now expanded into the Thames and Hauraki regions and the provider is now looking to launch a new service model to warm up the rest of the house.

Te Puna Oranga (Waikato DHB’s Maori Health service) runs the Warm our Whare initiative and in partnership with three insulation companies offered eligible families ceiling and underfloor insulation completely free of charge.

Te Puna Oranga general manager Ditre Tamatea said to reach 1000 homes was a testimony to the hard work done by his team and their partners. Warm our Whare aims to make homes warmer, drier and healthier.

More than 4000 high needs individuals benefitted from the free home insulation, most of them tamariki/children.

A new service model expands on the Warm our Whare initiative.

Whare Ora (or Healthy Homes) would assess households to determine how healthy they were.

Based on assessment needs, families would receive not only free home insulation but also other free products to make their homes warmer and drier, such as thermal-lined curtains, heating devices, dehumidifiers, blankets, mattress and pillow covers and vacuum cleaners with HEPA filters, and even warm clothes for children.

The service model would target tamariki/children and their whānau afflicted with rheumatic fever or respiratory conditions, the result of poverty, cold, damp homes and overcrowding. “In particular, we would be looking to target tamariki/children who are being admitted to hospital several times a year to see if we could reduce the admission rates,” said Mr Tamatea. “This approach is an upstream wellness approach that could potentially reduce costs on a pressured hospital and result in better health outcomes for children and their whānau.”

He said the impact of child poverty costs the country around $8.8 billion per year. “Health-related costs absorb between $3 – $4.5 billion of that cost. Some of these costs could potentially be reduced with adequate housing.

“Data shows that Maori, Pacific, and lower socio-economic groups are less likely to own their own homes.

They are also more disproportionately likely to reside in the more deprived areas where access to and affordability of quality housing choices is low.

“They are also more likely to suffer the effects of living in poor quality housing. “Over 50 per cent of Māori whānau across the Waikato DHB region live in the three most deprived deciles.

“The position that many-whanau face is compounded by the fact that rental costs and daily costs such as food continue to rise.

He said that more needs to be done to ensure all children live in adequate housing and can ultimately own their own homes.

The Whare Ora Healthy Homes service model would be led by Te Puna Oranga in partnership with two other Waikato DHB services – Waikids and Rural and Community, plus Housing New Zealand, Habitat for Humanity, Hamilton City Council, Te Puni Kokiri, the New Zealand Fire Service and the Ministry of Social Development. “Public health nurses play a vital role in the health of our communities and through their work see the housing challenges faced by many,” said Habitat for Humanity general manager Nic Greene.

“Habitat has programmes in place to help rectify some of these issues but this initiative forms a vital link between those in need and those who have means to address the problems.

“Our organisation believes everybody deserves a decent place to live so we are delighted to partner with Waikato DHB in this exciting initiative.”

Waikato DHB’s Rural and Community group manager Jill Dibble said, “We are supporting the Whare Ora project with public health nurses providing healthy home assessments for families.

“Public health nurses are faced every day with the reality of children, young people and their families living in cold, damp and unhealthy homes.

“Children and young people are missing school and frequently presenting to their GPs and hospitals due to illnesses caused by these types of environments.

“This programme will enable public health nurses to facilitate access to solutions for families with the significant support and provision of the other agencies and service involved.”

Te Rehia Papesch Regional Commissioner for the Ministry of Social Development said that Whare Ora was a “great opportunity for us all to come together to make a difference for our whānau in need”.

The initiative highlighted how different organisations have similar goals and by coming together in the spirit of goodwill and partnership, much could be done to help those in need.

“Our initiative realises the basic fact that you can’t achieve Whānau Ora or family health and wellbeing unless you have Whare Ora, a healthy home.”

The scheme is funded through EECA (Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority) and Waikato DHB.


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