Write a Green Prescription to improve health

From line dancing and chair yoga, to workshops with a registered dietitian, the Green Prescription programme is helping Kiwis get active and improve their lifestyle.

The free referral-based health and wellness programme has been running in New Zealand for 20 years and has helped support thousands of people improve their health and wellbeing.

The 12-week face-to-face programme offers patients regular contact and support to become more active and adopt healthier eating patterns. Patients are linked in with local activities such as aqua aerobics, gym and pool options, walking groups, tai chi, chair yoga, pilates, kick-boxing, line dancing and Zumba.

There’s also a range of free, weekly lifestyle workshops run by experts on topics such as nutrition, how to read food labels, home-based exercise programmes, how to manage health conditions such as diabetes and arthritis, posture and health, and how to stay happy and focussed.

At the end of the programme, participants attend a graduation ceremony, but have the option of continuing the programme if needed.

Sport Auckland delivers programme

Sport Auckland delivers the Green Prescription adult programme to patients over 18 years of age in the Auckland and Counties Manukau DHB areas.

People can make self-referrals by phoning 0800 ACTIVE (0800 228 483), however the most reliable referral method is an e-referral from a health professional. (Secondary care and DHB-based health professionals are not able to e-refer, but can continue to fax and email referrals.)

Michael McCormack, Sport Auckland Health & Wellness business development manager, says the programme is about supporting and motivating people to improve their lifestyle.

“The results are amazing. I’ve seen people lose a lot of weight, improve their diet and lifestyle, and as a result their overall health has improved dramatically. Some people have even come off their medication for things like high blood pressure. We also see big improvements in self-esteem and energy levels. It really is life-changing for a lot of people,” he says.

“Our target demographic is people with a high bodyweight, people at risk of developing diabetes, heart disease or asthma, people with moderate mental health conditions, and more recently, pregnant women with gestational diabetes. However, anybody who is inactive and would benefit from the programme can be referred.”

And it’s not just people over 18 years who can take part. Green Prescription also includes an Active Families programme, which targets families with children aged 5–17 years, offering similar services but over a nine to 12–month period. Included are home visits and weekly activity-based sessions and practical nutrition workshops for parents and whanau.

What patients can expect

Adults referred to the Green Prescription programme are contacted over the phone by a healthy lifestyle advisor within four working days of their referral.

“A face-to-face consultation is set up at a local community venue, the programme is explained and a plan is made to help the patient improve their lifestyle. Weekly group fitness sessions and lifestyle workshops are offered, as well as continuing phone support.”

For families taking part in the Active Families programme, a healthy lifestyle advisor visits their home to have the consultation.

“We then go through a similar process of explaining the programme and what’s on offer locally for the whole family to get involved.”

Michael says HealthLink’s electronic referrals are fast, secure, paperless and enable Green Prescription healthy lifestyle advisors to deliver the best programme possible.

“The more detailed information we have, the more accurate we can be with our suggestions and advice. It also means the handover from the health professional to the Green Prescription provider is more efficient.”

Details about your local Green Prescription service provider can be found here. You can contact them to arrange for a time to come and speak to your team about what’s on offer and the best way to refer.

How to refer to Sport Auckland

Sport Auckland are located in the Auckland and Counties Manukau DHB areas.

To refer to Sport Auckland electronically:

  • open the patient record
  • launch the HealthLink homepage
  • using the CareSelect search bar – type “Green Prescription”
  • click “Compose Referral”.

TRG Imaging Whangarei leads the way

It’s been a busy couple of years for TRG Imaging Whangarei with the installation of two new MRI machines – one of which offers the most advanced MRI technology available in New Zealand.

In December 2016, a new $2.3 million state-of-the-art Siemens Skyra 3T MRI machine was installed at the Kensington Avenue clinic. The machine has the most advanced MRI technology available in New Zealand, providing cutting edge imaging.

In addition to this, TRG Imaging have recently installed a Siemens Avanto 1.5T MRI, allowing them to extend their range of services even further.

TRG Imaging Whangarei service manager Sharee Fawlk says the 3T machine is ideal for imaging small bones, vascular, breast and musculoskeletal tissues, as well as doing neurological MRIs, while the 1.5T is ideal for chest and abdomen MRIs.

“Having this technology has given us so much flexibility in terms of what we can offer patients and the quality of the imaging is so crisp,” Sharee says.

“It was really important for us to expand to meet the increasing demand for our services and not have people waiting for treatment. These two MRI machines have enabled us to offer the best service possible to our patients.”

Patient experience at heart of TRG Imaging

But it’s not just cutting-edge technology on offer at TRG Imaging Whangarei – a positive patient experience is also important.

“The patient experience is really at the heart of what we do. We want patients to have the best experience possible during what can be a stressful time,” she says.

The clinic provides small touches to ensure the patient journey is as pleasant as it can possibly be.

“For example, all our rooms have been created and decorated to put patients at ease and take away that anxiety you sometimes feel while waiting for a procedure or result. We also offer patients a small chocolate on Valentine’s Day, it’s those small touches that can make a big difference.”

The clinic has also participated in the Outreach Therapy Pets programme, a joint partnership between the SPCA and St John.

“Once a week a trained dog comes in and patients can pat the dog and it does tricks. It provides a great distraction and helps people think about something else,” Sharee says.

“Our staff are very patient-focussed, friendly and caring. If we can help people walk away feeling positive, then that’s really satisfying.”

How to refer to TRG Imaging – Whangarei

TRG Imaging – Whangarei is located in the Northland region.

To refer to TRG Imaging – Whangarei electronically:

  • open the patient record
  • launch the HealthLink homepage
  • using the CareSelect search bar, type “TRG Northland”
  • click “Compose Referral”.

You can also refer to TRG Auckland, Hawke’s Bay & Gisborne, Rotorua & Taupo via CareSelect eReferrals.

Sport Wellington says farewell to fax referrals

Sport Wellington has taken the bold step of saying farewell to the frightful fax machine.

It no longer accepts faxed referrals for its Green Prescription programme from primary care providers with access to HealthLink’s e-Referral system.

Sport Wellington’s Ashleigh Baker, Lead – Adult, Healthy Lifestyles Team, says if the team receives a faxed referral, they use it as an opportunity to support the referrer to transition to e-referrals.

“People have been really receptive to the change and are happy to then provide us with the referral electronically,” Ashleigh says.

“We’re trying to influence the health sector to send through patient information in a way that’s not archaic. Electronic referrals are superior in every way – they provide more information about the patient, we can read what’s written, and they’re faster, more secure and better for the environment.”

Ashleigh says the more information they have about a patient, the easier it is to support them in their goal-setting and understand their motivation for wanting to join the programme.

“If we get a faxed referral with only a name and a couple of boxes ticked, we’re on the back foot because we don’t have enough information, or if the fax is ineligible we have to go back to the referrer to clarify and that can take a long time.”

Sport Wellington started phasing out fax referrals last year, but Ashleigh says it wasn’t until this year that they fully transitioned to being fax-free.

However, Ashleigh says they do allow a very small number of organisations to fax through referrals because they aren’t in a position to do it electronically.

Green Prescription programme

Sport Wellington is a Regional Sports Trust established in 1990 to lead the Wellington region’s sport and active recreation community to enable people to be more physically active.

It delivers the Green Prescription adult programme to patients over 18 years of age in the Capital and Coast, Hutt Valley and Wairarapa DHB areas. It also delivers the Active Families, Pre-School Active Families and Maternal Green Prescription programmes.

The free referral-based health and wellness programme has been running in New Zealand for 20 years and has helped support thousands of people to increase their physical activity and improve their nutrition to benefit their health and wellbeing.

After a patient is referred by a GP or nurse, they are contacted by a Green Prescription support person who will meet face-to-face and help them put together a health and wellbeing plan, focusing on small, sustainable nutrition and activity behaviours. Patients can also take part in weekly group physical activities and lifestyle workshops to help them learn practical skills and re-engage with their community.

“Green Prescription is about removing barriers and supporting people to set small, actionable, healthy goals that empower them to take charge of their health.”

How to refer to Sport Wellington

Sport Wellington are located in the Greater Wellington region.

To refer to Sport Wellington electronically:

  • open the patient record
  • launch the HealthLink homepage
  • using the CareSelect search bar – type “Sport Wellington” or “Green Prescription”
  • click “Compose Referral”.