For over a decade the Stroke Foundation of New Zealand has been working to raise awareness of the link between high blood pressure and stroke and provide people with support to manage their blood pressure to reduce stroke risk. This work is crucial to support our Mission to prevent stroke, improve outcomes and save lives.
In the last three years we secured funding to specially modify two mobile BP testing vehicles to provide free blood pressure and pulse checks to high-risk communities. On average we provide over 10,000 free checks each year, with 1% of those tested being in hypertensive crisis and being referred for immediate follow-up. A further 30% of those tested return elevated BP readings and are encouraged to seek further medical attention. Our follow-up evaluation research shows that over 50% of people who engage with our mobile BP service go on to take action to better manage their blood pressure.
In response to feedback received from those tested, our health promotion team has developed an online Blood Pressure support tool, He Taonga. This free tool is designed to step individuals, whānau and friends through the process of making sustainable healthy lifestyle changes to reduce stroke risk. While relevant to all adults, given our commitment to improving equitable health outcomes, and the increased risk of stroke in our Māori communities, this tool has been specifically targeted to our priority Māori audience.
We are also working with the construction industry to pilot a new workplace health promotion programme, using the BP testing vans to initiate engagement with workers on-site. The programme will support workers who register high BP readings to receive further support through primary care, with wrap around support from employers where appropriate. We will be also using the on-site BP testing to initiate a series of healthy lifestyle promotions, to encourage construction workers to reduce their risk factors for stroke and other long-term conditions.
People generally spend the largest proportion of their day at work and the environment they work in can have a significant influence on their health and wellbeing. We will be working on-site with employers to support better health and wellbeing programmes such as increasing the availability of healthy food on-site, providing smokefree support, and improving support for mental health and wellbeing.
The decision to prioritise the construction industry was made because of the alignment between our priority audiences and the demographics of those employed in the industry. It opens a channel to target markets that would otherwise be hard to access, covering a broad range of unskilled, skilled and professional workers. Following the pilot, we will be aiming to roll the initiative out to other industries and sectors.
Our collaboration with the Ministry of Health and Te Hiringa Hauora to deliver the national FAST campaign continues. Our focus on raising awareness of FAST among Māori and Pacific communities is ongoing with results from the latest round of evaluation showing a significant increase in awareness for both audiences.
New material developed over the last year including stories from several Māori and Pacific stroke survivors achieved high levels of engagement online. This showed the power of storytelling in connecting these priority audiences to the FAST message.
In addition to supporting the national FAST campaign Te Hiringa Hauora is funding the Stroke Foundation to upskill health navigators, kaiāwhina and other health and social support workers on the FAST message, and how to embed this within their communities. Our training package will be available across face to face and online platforms. We are also developing a summarised version of the training for workplaces and have employers in the timber, dairy, road traffic, infrastructure, and manufacturing industries keen to roll out the training through their workforce, to build awareness and understanding of FAST.
If you would like further information on any of the above, please contact Julia Rout (National Health Promotion Manager at the Stroke Foundation of New Zealand) on email@example.com