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Students' work inform new locations of retinal screening clinics

Latest News 29 June 2020 | A group of University of Auckland Population Health students on placement at Counties Manukau Health (CM Health) have identified new locations for community based clinics that could improve the uptake of diabetic retinal screening in the Counties Manukau area.

Their report reinforces the importance of having clinics on locations with cultural significance, close to where the community is and offering flexible hours.

CM Health already provide screening in community sites such as marae and culturally targeted general practices, but as a result of the report, the Ophthalmology Service is now looking into expanding the diabetic retinal screening clinics into more areas, including other marae and community spaces.

“We want to soon have services up and running in other community locations in partnership with community leaders. We are already in discussions to start a service at Manurewa Marae and in two locations in Takanini,” says Service Lead Diabetic Retinal Screening Stephanie Emma.

All people with diabetes should have their eyes regularly screened for diabetic eye disease, also known as diabetic retinopathy, as screening can detect and treat it early. This condition damages tiny blood vessels in the eye and may result in blindness. Screening is free for people living with diabetes in the CM Health area.

The report by the students focussed on how to better reach Pacific and Maaori as they have the highest rate of diabetes and the lowest rate of screening respectively and recommends the implementation of more community based screening clinics in CM Health.

“From a literature review we found that it is important to work in collaboration with the community. Interventions appear to be most successful when they involve target communities, incorporating rigorous follow up processes, and remain flexible to the needs of the population,” says student Hannah Crawford.

“Information from our review guided the selection of community sites with a focus on the inclusion of culturally significant locations particularly for Maaori and Pacific populations. Future implementation of the survey we developed will confirm sites already approached or identify further sites that the community would like to see the clinics in”.

The approach taken focussed on identifying possible sites that are likely to be easy to physically access for the greatest number of the target population, such as local pharmacies, community halls, and health centres. Results of the survey will identify further potential sites aligned with what the community wants.

Student Sarah Sneyd complements that “these findings can be used by CM Health to implement an effective, culturally safe and accessible clinic for its community.”

For student Anam Aiyub, it was a great experience.

“I had little knowledge myself of what the screening was. I also live in this area, so I feel really good about being a part of helping my Counties community and give back.”

Service Lead Stephanie Emma says she was impressed by the students work and that the recommendations on the students’ report are being taking into consideration, such as continued promotion and education, integration of other forms of diabetes care in the clinic, collaboration with local healthcare professionals and community and designing the service around cultural and holistic models of health.

* photo from left to right: Sarah Sneyd, Hannah Crawford, Anam Aiyub

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community screening diabetes

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