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Published Friday 4 Mar 2022

The COVID-19 Care in the Community Framework was set up by the Ministry of Heath, which ensures that people with COVID-19 receive the support they need.

It’s a regionally coordinated, locally-led approach to managing COVID-19 patients and their whānau, understanding that local health and welfare providers know their communities best.

In the greater Wellington region, it’s a combined effort from a number of stakeholders, including 2DHB, iwi, PHOs, GPs, pharmacies, Government Ministries, NGOs, diverse communities, and ethnic-specific groups. The Hutt Valley and Capital & Coast DHBs provide support to the pandemic response framework governed by chief medical officer Dr John Tait and an experienced team of senior clinicians, and the 25-strong COVID-19 Response Team who have worked tirelessly over the past year to establish systems and processes to deliver testing, vaccinations, and now a care in the community programme for the populations we serve. Some of the responsibilities clinical staff hold are triaging positive cases and providing medical advice to those who need it.

“Care in the community is currently a strong area of focus that requires delicately supporting people who become positive cases. If someone tests positive and reports it to My COVID Record or over the phone, a Regional Public Health professional will call them back to ask a series of questions to help identify what support they need whether clinical or manaaki. We then go about the necessary care and support required to the individual and their family, utilising support from relevant stakeholders” says Junior Ulu, director of Pacific Peoples Health and acting general manager COVID Response.

“A key point we’re telling people in the community is that there’s no need to be whakamā when becoming a positive case. A lot of people are feeling guilt and shame when they test positive, but they’ve done nothing wrong. The fact that they’re sick, and that they need support, whether it’s medical, financial, or as simple as getting some food delivered is absolutely fine, and we’re more than happy to provide that support for them.”

The 2DHBs’ pro-equity approach is a key aspect of the Care in the Community Framework. Different levels of support is provided based on what the need is for each individual case. Some people won’t need any extra support, particularly those who are asymptomatic and have friends and family who can support them, while others will be heavily impacted by testing positive, and will need a wraparound service to help them through their isolation.

“This is the benefits of working collaboratively and having all of these stakeholders working together, it helps to ensure no one is left behind. There are no silos; if someone needs a higher level of manaaki, we’re all able to work together to provide that. Our clinical staff are able to provide medical support, MSD can help financially, Whanau Ora has a role to play, and our community partners can do the work on the ground. By working together, we can provide a higher level of support, making our communities safer and limiting the impact that COVID-19 is having on our people”

Junior is proud of how people are working together on the COVID-19 response.

“I have been so impressed and pleased to see everyone coming together to help each other. We are dealing with the biggest public health event in our lifetimes. It’s unnerving for people, especially because we’ve been kept relatively safe from COVID-19 until now, but I know the level of support that is being provided for people who do test positive makes them feel calm and safe.

“The impact that people’s hard work and dedication is having on our community cannot be overstated.”