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Sound, practical advice for patients, families and carers on managing at home is the focus of the Kowhai Programme at Otago Community Hospice.
Occupational therapist Christina Bowen co-ordinates the weekly lunchtime programme, which covers a range of topics over 13 weeks.
Guest speakers cover everything from an introduction to hospice services, advice on navigating the system, legal matters, medication, and how to create small and tasty meals, to grief, advance planning, and finding meaning.
Mrs Bowen has run the programme for the past four years, taking over from founder and researcher Jennifer Angelo.
Up to 20 people attend each session, including some students in the health field.
‘‘The idea is to make the sessions welcoming and useful for people — we understand that people’s time is precious.’’
An important aspect of the programme was to demystify the hospice for those who may be fearful, or had not visited before.
‘‘We focus on helping people to live well, and we keep things informal and relaxed.’’
As Kowhai Programme coordinator Ms Bowen was in a ‘‘privileged position to meet some amazing people’’.
Along with being useful and informative, the sessions were a chance for patients and families to enjoy socialising.
‘‘Everyone who comes to the sessions gets it — they understand the stresses and challenges without having to explain anything.
‘‘People often form strong friendships within the group.’’
The feedback from programme participants had been that it also helped to open up ‘‘hard basket’’ conversations.
★ The next Kowhai Programme will start on August 21, and run each Tuesday until November 13. Email christina.bowen@otago hospice.co.nz for information.