Eastern Bay Edition - September 2018 Pooch brings Joy Every weekend Joy Sunich and her precious pooch Bella can be spotted popping into rest homes in and around Whakatāne, a Canine Friend to residents. Joy has been working in the health sector for more than 30 years.Initially she trained as a nurse and spent the ﬁ rst part of her career working at Middlemore Hospital. For the past 16 years she’s been working at Whakatāne Hospital as the Medical Staﬀ Administrator. Aﬀ ectionately known to many staﬀ as ‘Mama Joy’ she supports doctors; senior clinicians, locums and the fresh faced newbies navigating their way through the health system. It’s fair to say, Joy is one of those people who likes helping others. For many years she volunteered at the RSPCA. Until her own health issues meant she could no longer keep it up. That’s when she got the idea of signing up to Canine Friends with her much loved pooch Bella. “With Bella in tow, I went with a friend to visit her dad who has dementia. His face lit up when he saw her, it was priceless.” Joy, who has eased back on her working hours this year, says she thought becoming a Canine Friend was something she can do now in her spare time and moreso when she retires. Canine Friends Pet Therapy is a New Zealand-wide network of people who share their friendly well behaved dogs with other people - patients in hospitals and residents in rest homes and hospices. Health research in New Zealand and overseas shows the health of many people improves through interaction with visiting animals. Many people beneﬁ t from the natural aﬀ ection that most dogs have for humans especially the elderly and unwell. Like the other Canine Friends, Bella and Joy had to be screened to see if they were suitable for the role. The duo passed and so started weekend trips to local rest homes in the Eastern Bay. “We only spend about an hour at a time with residents and it’s only with those who want to see Bella.” Ohope Beach Care Diversional Therapist Melissa Foulkes says, “Bella and Joy really brighten up the day of many of our residents.” She says a lot of the residents at Ohope Beach Care are former farmers who’ve worked with animals and had pets all their lives. Joy & Bella It’s a huge adjustment moving to residential care and giving up pets is part of that as well. Joy says so far it’s been well worth taking the time. “Bella loves it. She can sit quietly with someone or have them pat her continuously. She seems to know just what people need.” Bella is currently the only Canine Friend visiting rest homes in the Eastern Bay. To ﬁ nd out more visit www.caninefriends.org.nz Better dental care for rural communities until 9 November and then move to Te Kura Kaupapa Motuhake o Tawhiuau until the end of November. “Absolute Dental operate four practices in Tokoroa, Rotorua, Ngongotaha and Kawerau, so when approached to consider a mobile dental service in Murupara, it was a logical step. Absolute Dental have been specialising in delivering services to smaller towns with higher populations of Māori and other ethnicities for more than 20 years. The beneﬁ ts of good oral health impact the person’s whole well-being and dentistry needs to be aﬀ ordable for all to access. The impact of poor oral health can have a huge eﬀ ect on someone’s health and self-esteem or conﬁ dence,” says Shash Patel. Local people will be familiar with the mobile dental unit concept, with the BOPDHB mobile dental units parked up at the school providing free dental care for children 12 and under. Te Kohatu Winitana was the ﬁ rst teenager to have his teeth checked by Shash Patel. A new dental service has been launched making it easier for teenagers and adults to look after their teeth in the rural community of Murupara. Starting this week the mobile dental unit is parked at Murupara Area School with dentist Shash Patel from Rotorua’s Absolute Dental on board seeing local teenagers and adults. The mobile unit will remain there “What we were seeing was a real drop oﬀ in those children having their teeth checked as they grew into teenagers, as that’s when they are transferred to community dentists for free basic dental care. The closest dentist is in either in Rotorua or Whakatāne, about an hour’s drive away,” says BOPDHB Community Health 4 Kids Regional Manager Martin Steinmann. Martin estimates about 120 teenagers have been missing out on free dental care in Murupara and surrounding areas, most likely due to the inconvenience associated with the distance to travel, plus parents needing to take up to three hours oﬀ work for the appointment and round-trip . “With Absolute Dental and ﬁ nancial support from Ngāti Manawa iwi plus the usual funding avenues available for adults through BOPDHB and Work and Income, we’re able to provide low cost dental care for adults in the community as well. “It costs a lot less to provide dental care in the community closer to where people live and before the condition of their teeth deteriorates to the point where they need hospital treatment,” says Martin. On Monday representatives from the BOPDHB, Ministry of Social Development and Absolute Dental gathered with Ngāti Manawa iwi, and the local community at Murupara Area School to oﬃ cially open the new service.