Dieticians in the community

31 March 2017


Dietitian Hiki Pihema speaking with Legalo and Mihikohi Fakaalofa in a clinic

Dietitian Hiki Pihema speaking with Legalo and Mihikohi Fakaalofa in a clinic at the Puhi Kaiti Medical Centre.

For people with poorly controlled diabetes, making changes to their diet can have a really positive effect on their health. The Dietetics Service at Gisborne Hospital helps people with significant health issues to improve their wellbeing through what they eat. 

However, five years ago large numbers of people who were referred to us for help were not attending their appointments, says Dietetics Team Leader Hiki Pihema.

“We know that making changes to your diet is not easy and something that many people feel whakama (shy) about discussing. Most of the people we see are really unwell and getting to and from an appointment at Gisborne Hospital can be a challenge.“

“So two years ago we started holding our clinics for people enrolled at Puhi Kaiti Medical Centre at Puhi Kaiti. Since then we have very few missed appointments for Dietetics Clinics.”

“The staff at Puhi Kaiti have been very supportive, it really is a team effort. Most of the people we see there have complications with Diabetes. They are usually referred by Dr Willem Jordaan who inspires whānau support of Huringa Pai.”

“People are supported by Chronic Care Nurse Nancy Aupouri who keeps in touch with people, is involved in education and scheduling appointments. Kaiawhina Paul Smith is also key. He provides transport to and from appointments and draws on his own experiences to support healthy lifestyles (see page 8). Staff will also arrange to have an interpreter present when I am seeing Pacific People,” added Hiki.

“More recently we have begun dietetics clinics at Delatour Road Medical. The people we are seeing at this practice have a broader range of conditions including cancer, heart disease or have had a colostomy.”

“It is important to remember that this is secondary (hospital service) that is being delivered in the community. We are specifically focused on those people that have complications and poor management of their diet. There is no cost to the patient but they must have a referral from their GP. We try to complement the work that is being done in the community around diet.

“Our role as dietitians is to discuss what people are eating and how that relates to their medical condition. We then discuss changes that may help improve their health and encourage them to choose what changes are feasible considering their individual lifestyle.

“Delivering our service at community GP practices has been a popular change that we are keen to roll out further. One area of need is the East Coast. At present people either come to the hospital or I do home visits depending on the need in the community,” says Hiki.