The clinic that treats you all

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The New Habit Health Clinic in Petone is now practicing all-round treatment.

Penny Collins could tell right away that this was more than a physical injury. The man had a below-knee amputation, but it was clear his confidence and mental health were also affected.

Collins, senior physical therapist at Habit Health Petone, asked the center’s broader team for their medical expertise to help him.

Collins is glad he came to her clinic. It’s a bit different – sort of a one-stop shop where a wider range of healthcare can be provided based on your needs. This format allows healthcare professionals like her to build relationships with patients, build trust and help them in many aspects of their lives.

“I could see we could really help this guy, but he needed someone to see the whole picture,” she says. “Recovering from an injury isn’t just physical, very often there are mental and emotional barriers to getting better. That’s what our team looks at – the customer as a whole.

“We organized a psychologist from our team to help him deal with his mental stress from his injury. We also noticed that his hip was quite weak, so a physiotherapist started working on that as well. What we’re proud of.” is the fact that he didn’t have to explain anything more than once.

“Now he has been fired from our psychologist for regaining his confidence and we are at a point in his rehabilitation where he is only working with a careers counselor to help him find work. It’s great to see how far he’s come.”

Petone is the latest addition to Habit Health’s clinics across New Zealand to practice this holistic approach – meaning people’s hurts or concerns are not treated in isolation: “We look at all barriers to well-being so we can look at them as a whole person,” says Collins.

This works because of Habit Health’s internal referral process, which allows the broader healthcare team to be much more responsive to people’s needs. It’s also much more convenient for clients who don’t have to go from one clinic to the next. For example, the Habit Health Petone team includes physical therapists, occupational therapists, a psychologist, social workers, nurses and careers counselors.

How does this “holistic” approach actually benefit customers? “It makes their lives a lot easier,” says Collins. “Life shouldn’t be that hard, especially when you have a bad injury. You shouldn’t have to run across town to see different people for different things.”

It’s not just about seeing the physical therapist, she says. The physical therapist can help with the onset of neck pain – but then the patient can consult one of Habit Health’s counselors about the stress in their life that is causing the neck pain.

With the team under one roof, the healthcare team can get much-needed information about clients and sequentially book appointments with other healthcare professionals.

Photo / Included. Photo / Included.

“Patients don’t have to go somewhere else and explain everything over and over again. The information is all here and we’re all in one place.”

Collins believes health is far more complex than just treating people from one angle, with mental and emotional aspects of life being extremely important to overall well-being: “The social stuff is huge. We have a social worker who was helping a mother with an injured back I was helping her with her back but the social worker was helping her gain confidence as this mother was also coping with some of the anxiety from the injury.

“Our social worker helped her join a local mothers group and did everything she could for this woman. I helped her with physical therapy but sometimes people just need to talk before we can even get to the injury.”

Habit Health is also focused on using cutting-edge technology to help people recover faster. “It’s great to see our Petone team keeping up with the latest techniques,” says Collins. “We use the Canadian GaitScan system as part of the treatment. It performs a full assessment of your biomechanics, capable of capturing a whole range of injuries that people may not be aware of.”

She encourages people to actively take care of their health instead of ignoring problems: “I hate hearing about people who endure things when they don’t have to – like a mother who endures carpal tunnel syndrome in her hand, if only she has to stretch her shoulders from holding her baby in the cradle for six months.”

The biggest rewards Collins wins come from helping people with severe headaches and migraines “because they can be so painful and debilitating.”

“People need to understand that any pain that has existed for a long time is really built into your system. Persistent and chronic pain is a real focus for us here because we believe we can transform people’s lives and attitudes. When it’s bad, it keeps people from living their lives to the fullest.

“When we help people, we can see them start smiling, relaxing and laughing again. It’s just wonderful to be a part of it.”

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