Mixing it up . . . All smiles at Dunstan Hospital are Central Otago Health Services Ltd supervisers (from left) Heather Paterson, Sarah Walker, Alice Romano and allied health students Kirsten O'Sullivan, Georgia Budd and Kristen Hackfath. PHOTO: ADAM BURNS

It’s creating an ability to work anywhere with anybody and with very little.–COHSL medical social work service co-ordinator Alice RomanoA LACK of resource for rural hospitals is forcing some hospitals to think outside the box.

These are the sentiments of allied health supervisors at Clyde’s Dunstan Hospital who are tackling these challenges head on with its new student placement programme.

The Central Otago Rural Health Integrated Student Programme (Crisp) has been set up as a means to assemble and co-ordinate allied health students across varying disciplines to work together in teams as part of their placements.

The project has been introduced by various Central Otago Health Services Ltd (COHSL) allied health therapists and supported by a grant from the Rural Aotearoa Research Network.

The lack of resource in rural communities was forcing hospitals to be more creative, COHSL medical social work service co-ordinator Alice Romano said.

“It’s creating an ability to work anywhere with anybody and with very little.”

Three students encompassing occupational therapy, physiotherapy and social work disciplines are in their final year of study and have begun placements at Dunstan.

COHSL physiotherapy service co-ordinator Sarah Walker said the programme was valuable for both students and hospital staff.

“It’s different when you’re a student coming in and working with qualified staff members who do this all the time versus working with students who are learning the same things and are developing a way of working in a team.

“It takes a bit of the load off us as supervisors because we’re able to share the students around a lot easier.”

An aim to provide the same “efficient and effective” approach to patient care would hopefully extend to primary healthcare in future, Ms Walker said.

ADAM.BURNS mediaNike