News & Events

Keep cool and hydrated to beat the heat

25 January 2019

A boy drinks from a fountain. Source: Christchurch City Council

It’s a long-held view that summer’s hottest days arrive just as the children return to school – and that’s set to ring true with a week of high temperatures forecast throughout Canterbury over the coming days.

Forecasters are predicting a run of hot days starting tomorrow (26th January), peaking on Monday (28th January) with a forecast high of 32 degrees in Christchurch. At present highs of 28 to 30 are forecast to continue after this through to next weekend (2nd and 3rd February).

Several other Canterbury towns are predicted to get five scorching days of 30+ degree temperatures from Monday 28th January.

Canterbury Medical Officer of Health Dr Alistair Humphrey says older people, children and those with underlying medical conditions are most at risk from the impacts of heat stress.

“It’s especially important to stay out of the sun, avoid extreme physical exertion and ensure that babies, children, and elderly people (and pets) are not left alone in stationary cars.”

Dr Humphrey says extreme heat can affect blood pressure and hydration, and he urges people to seek help if they feel dizzy, weak or have intense thirst or a headache.

“Good hydration is key. Try to consume at least two litres of water a day and avoid drinking alcohol in the hot weather as it speeds up dehydration.”

“Look after each other and keep an eye out for your mates who may not be aware that they are getting overheated.”

Remember to be SunSmart (Slip, Slop, Slap and Wrap) if outdoors.

Residents are advised to keep their houses cool by opening windows to get a breeze, closing curtains to keep the sun out and consider using the cool cycle on heat pumps.

What to do if you feel unwell and are concerned about your health, or someone else’s.

Seek medical advice by calling your own general practice team. After hours you can call the usual practice number for free health advice from a registered nurse for #carearoundtheclock.

Call 111 in a life-threatening emergency.

Source: Canterbury DHB media advisory (25th January 2019).

Care around the clock continues over the summer

21 December 2018

Wherever your holidays take you around New Zealand, remember that you can still get free health advice whenever you need it this summer.

Father and his 3 young children walking to the sea on a beach.You can call your own general practice team 24/7 for care around the clock – from jellyfish stings, to jandal-induced injuries, a reaction to the Christmas ham or an allergy to the relatives.

Be sure to load your usual general practice number into your mobile phone before you head off on holiday. A team of registered nurses are ready to take your call – any time of day or night, including public holidays.

Watch a video to meet some of the Care around the clock nursing team.

Remember to take enough of your regular medications with you if you are heading away. If you need a repeat prescription – get it sorted before you leave town.

  • Call or text 1737 any time if you’re feeling anxious or just need someone to talk – you can talk a trained counsellor for free.
  • Call 111 in a life-threatening emergency.

Make your usual general practice team your first call for all other health care needs – whether you’re holidaying in Wanaka or Whangamata. They can tell you what to do and where to go if you need to be seen urgently.

Information for visitors to Christchurch

Visitors to Christchurch who need to see a doctor can visit one of the extended hours practices:

  • The 24 Hour Surgery (401 Madras Street – near the corner with Bealey Avenue).
    Phone (+64) 3 365 7777
  • Moorhouse Medical (3 Pilgrim Place)
    Phone (+64) 3 365 7900. Open 8am to 8pm daily.
  • Riccarton Clinic (6 Yaldhurst Road)
    Phone (+64) 343 3661. Open 8am to 8pm daily.

Get trusted health advice over the summer

Other good places for health advice are:

  • HealthInfo Canterbury – a health website with information specific to Canterbury. It is written and approved by local doctors, practice nurses, hospital clinicians, and other healthcare professionals; or
  • your community pharmacy.

Source: Canterbury DHB media release (21st December 2018).

Five Ways to Wellbeing during the holiday season

30 November 2018

The holidays can be a time for family and celebrations – but it can also be a time when many people feel stressed and blue. This year has been a tough one for many, so here are a few tips on how to support your wellbeing this season.

Wishing you a safe and naturally enjoyable holiday season!

Connect (me whakawhanaunga)

  • Make some time in your day to connect with nature – stretch your legs outside or bring the outside in.
  • Go barefoot and feel the grass or sand between your toes.
  • Go for a swim in the sun.
  • Find a photo of the natural world and make it your screen saver, or adopt a potted plant.
  • Reach out to people you know – Skype them, call or Facebook them, or meet face to face.
  • Take some time to read the local newspaper or newsletter to see what’s going on in your area, such as an organised group outing, musical or cultural performance or community Christmas event.

Give (tukua)

‘Tis the season for giving, but many of us might be a bit strapped for cash at this time. One way to shake off the financial stress is by getting creative with the holiday spirit. Give the gift of time by offering to help with someone’s garden, babysit or make a gift from natural materials. There are also some little ways to give while rushing around:

  • Give a smile to a stranger or a compliment to someone, or
  • Donate some old toys, books or clothes to someone who might need some kindness.

Take notice (me aro tonu)

Every day seems to get busier and the spirit of the season can get lost in the hassle and bustle of each day. A good antidote is to take some time to learn more about what your body is telling you. If you’re feeling overwhelmed and exhausted – pause, breath in, breath out. You could also:

  • Take notice of the pohutukawa flowers changing, or the night sky.
  •  Go somewhere you’ve always been meaning to visit in your local area.

Keep learning (me ako tonu)

There’s always something new to learn, especially when you’re interacting with nature.

  • Read up on what fruit and veggies are in season, or learn about what natural resources you have in your backyard.
  • You really can learn something new each day – share stories with your family, go on a bush walk, learn about the natural environment from your tablet or local library, or take a trip to the zoo or botanical gardens.

Be active (me kori tonu)

Getting outside and exercising is good for your overall health and wellbeing!

  • Have a lunch break outside.
  • Take a walk with a friend in a park.
  • Design a treasure hunt for your friends and family.

There are ways to bring activity into all you do – by using the stairs instead of the elevator, getting off the bus one stop earlier, or catching up with a friend for a walk instead of a coffee.

Stay well this season with some helpful information and support

Source: Mental Health Foundation website.

Canterbury wellbeing indicators continue upward trend

28 November 2018

Quality of life continues to improve for greater Christchurch residents, according to the latest wellbeing indicators.

The Canterbury Wellbeing Index uses data from many different local and national agencies, as well the Canterbury Wellbeing Survey, to bring together information about wellbeing in Christchurch City, Selwyn District and Waimakariri District.

Chair of the greater Christchurch Psychosocial Governance Group Evon Currie,  says wellbeing in greater Christchurch has continued its upward trend post-quake.

“Overall, the wellbeing of our community is in the best shape it has been since the earthquakes. Eight in ten greater Christchurch residents rate their quality of life positively, stress levels continue to fall, and the WHO-5 wellbeing scale is at its highest level since it was first measured in 2013,” says Mrs Currie.

The Canterbury Wellbeing Index is informed by data from 15 agencies, various Statistics New Zealand surveys, and Census data, and also includes data from the Canterbury Wellbeing Survey.

Mrs Currie says that while wellbeing is improving for many, there are several groups within our community who continue to experience lower wellbeing. These groups include Māori, those on low incomes, and those with a disability or chronic health condition.

“Being able to live the type of life you value shouldn’t be the preserve of the wealthy or healthy. We need to do more to ensure that no one is left behind. That should be the ultimate measure of a successful community.”

Evon Currie says that a question on loneliness was included in this year’s Survey for the first time.

“It’s no surprise that people who are lonely also experience lower levels of wellbeing. What was surprising was the degree of loneliness experienced by young Cantabrians. Nearly 15 percent of 18 to 24 year olds feel lonely or isolated always or most of the time, compared with less than 3 percent of those over 65.”

“I’m interested in digging deeper into the issue of loneliness to determine whether government agencies and our communities need to be playing more of a role in encouraging connections and a sense of belonging, especially for our young people.”

The Canterbury Wellbeing Index contains 56 indicators across a diverse range of domains including education, housing, health and jobs, and includes a separate section focusing on 19 Māori wellbeing indicators. The Index enables users to extract the information they are interested in.

Evon Currie is encouraging local decision makers to explore the data and use it to positively influence the wellbeing of the local population.

Source: Canterbury District Health Board media release (28th November 2018).

October is the start of Legionnaires’ season

4 October 2018

It’s gardening season so it’s time to reach for the spade, the wheelbarrow, the gloves, and the face mask!

Canterbury Medical Officer of Health Dr Alistair Humphrey is warning gardeners to take care with bagged potting mix and compost to avoid life-threatening Legionnaire’s disease.

“Gardeners are at particularly high risk of catching Legionnaires’ disease as the bacteria thrives in bags of potting mix and compost,” says Dr Humphrey.

Dr Humphrey says 24 Cantabrians were diagnosed with Legionnaires’ disease last November – the highest monthly number ever recorded. It’s possible that up to fifteen cases may have occurred during Labour weekend.

62 Cantabrians were hospitalised with the disease last year. Thirteen of these patients spent extended periods of time in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU), including one patient who was in ICU for 42 days.

“The number of cases last spring was around three times more than average. We don’t know why the bacteria was particularly virulent then. One theory is that the warmer than usual spring led to potting mix and compost heating up in the bag more than usual – creating a perfectly warm and moist environment for the bacteria to thrive.” says Dr Humphrey.

Canterbury has the country’s highest incidence rates of Legionnaire’s disease, while New Zealand has the highest reported incidence of the disease in the world.

Five simple steps to avoid Legionnaire’s disease from potting mix or compost

It is important that gardeners follow these five simple steps to avoid catching Legionnaires’ disease from potting mix or compost:

  1. Open bags of compost or potting mix carefully – use scissors instead of ripping the bag
  2. Wear a well-fitting disposable face mask and gloves. Remember not to touch your mask while gardening.
  3. Dampen down the potting mix or compost with a sprinkle of water to reduce dust.
  4. Work with potting mix or compost in a well-ventilated area outside.
  5. Wash your hands thoroughly after handling potting mix or compost, or doing any gardening.

“Legionnaires’ is a very serious illness and these simple actions can be lifesaving” says Dr Humphrey.

Symptoms of Legionnaire’s disease to look out for

Symptoms of the disease may include:

  • dry coughing
  • high fever
  • chills
  • diarrhoea
  • shortness of breath
  • chest pains
  • headaches
  • excessive sweating
  • nausea
  • vomiting, and
  • abdominal pain.

The illness may be mild but can sometimes be fatal. It is more common in older people, particularly if they smoke, have poor immunity or a chronic illness. The incubation period for the disease is up to two weeks.

Anyone who gets these symptoms should see their general practice team immediately, and let them know they have been handling potting mix or compost recently.

Source: Canterbury DHB media release (4th October 2018).

Page last updated: 24/04/2018

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