He Tama Wairua, He Tama Tinana – reducing risk, changing lives

Specialist diabetes nurse Lorna Bingham works closely with a community-based health and exercise programme primarily for Māori and Pacific men who are concerned about their diabetes and cardiovascular disease risk.

Kathy (centre) with instructor Henry (left) and participant Fred Lefaoseu.

Led by Kathy McConville, Henry Iona and Vanessa Broughton, He Tama Wairua, He Tama Tinana was an addition to the current community exercise programme at Marist St Pats in the Wellington suburb of Kilbirnie. The programme is funded by PHARMAC, the Cancer Society, Compass Health PHO and the WellHealth Trust, and costs for participants are minimal.

It consists of 3 exercise sessions and a 1-hour education session a week. There have been speakers from the Heart Foundation, a nutritionist from the Well Health Trust, Pacific men encouraging participants to cycle, people who are on dialysis, and talks from specialists from the Wellington Hospital diabetes clinic and the dialysis clinic.

Kathy says there were a couple of men in the group who were in denial about their diabetes risk.

‘People with kidney failure talked about what it was like to be hooked up to a dialysis machine for 5 hours a day – the inconvenience, but also to realise you’re not able to work and support your family. It was an eye-opener, but exactly what some of the men needed to start making some changes in their lives.’

An evaluation of the programme found that, among other benefits, 83% of the men participating had reduced their waist circumference, 92% had reduced their weight by 2–10 kg and 94% had increased their cardio-fitness.

This story is part of Karori Medical Centre – Supporting patients with diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

Read the next story in this series: Exercise and education course means Fred now ‘does everything right’.

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