August 2021 Update from DCM
Working together to protect taumai
DCM and Te Aro Health Centre (TAHC) have a long history of working together to support the most marginalised people in our city. TAHC operates a satellite outreach clinic at DCM three mornings a week. Over the past month, a key joint focus has been on ensuring that these vulnerable people are protected against COVID-19. The importance of this was brought into even sharper focus when our second vaccine clinic at DCM had to be postponed due to New Zealand entering another Level 4 lockdown. But as has always been the case at DCM, we found a way to make this work – and were able to continue to vaccinate those who need it most at a second vaccine day during lockdown.
Here DCM’s Director, Stephen Turnock, and TAHC Nurse Practitioner/Clinic Lead, Bronwyn Boele van Hensbroek-Miller, talk about their shared commitment to the people who DCM calls taumai*.
Stephen: Here at DCM this month, we have been reflecting on human rights – the basic rights and freedoms that belong to every person. As a nation, we have signed up to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, yet so many of the people DCM supports do not have access to these basic rights. Article 25 states that everyone has 'the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and wellbeing of himself and his family' – including medical care. Our partnership with Te Aro Health Centre (TAHC) is key to providing this care for the people who come through our doors.
Bronwyn: Yes, at Te Aro Health, we believe that everyone has a right to maintain good health and to have access to high quality health services. We work to assist those in Wellington’s inner city, with low or no income, and with other barriers to accessing healthcare, to achieve and maintain good health. Our priority is to enrol those who are homeless, those with a history of drug and alcohol abuse and those who have a mental illness.
Stephen: Having TAHC and a team of vaccinators offer the COVID-19 vaccine here at DCM has been great for taumai – for them, it's all about accessibility. Having the vaccine available at DCM where they feel comfortable, among people they trust, has been an important factor. Last year, during our first lockdown, Bronwyn and her team went out alongside DCM kaimahi to connect with taumai in emergency housing, offering flu shots and health support. Every week, they are here at DCM, seeing taumai and addressing any health needs they may have: from long-term health issues through to injuries, rapid testing and treatment for hepatitis, and of course their mental health needs. And when we were again not able to open at DCM in Lukes Lane during this month’s Level 4 lockdown, TAHC continued to offer their support including COVID tests from their own health rooms nearby.
In the weeks preceding our vaccine days at DCM, we have spoken with taumai, answered their questions and heard them share their own reasons for getting vaccinated. For our first vaccine day, we offered transport to DCM for those who needed it, so that they could receive their vaccine. We provided kai, community and waiata to taumai as they waited with us for 20 minutes after their vaccine. And after this time, we cheered for each person as they left, thanking them for the part they have played in keeping themselves, their whānau and all of us – their community – safe.
Bronwyn: And then when we found ourselves in another lockdown, we worked together to find a way to continue vaccinating safely. TAHC enormously values the collaboration we have with DCM so it was great that last week we were again able to offer vaccines at DCM under Level 4 – masked up and safely spaced – enabling dozens of taumai to receive their first dose, and many their second. Rough sleepers who have been very reluctant to be vaccinated came forward and showed such courage. They are doing their part, just as so many other New Zealanders are. Yes, this is just one more example of how we can support the health and wellbeing of the most vulnerable people in our community when we all work together.
*We call the people we work with taumai, meaning to settle. This reflects the journey we set out on together – to become settled, stable and well.