Delivering gambling interventions service to many
Te Rapuora O Te Waiharakeke
Te Rapuora has been delivering a gambling intervention service to significant numbers of people in Marlborough since October 2005 and we have the statistics to prove it. The figure of six that is being quoted is aligned to only one of the strategies that the Ministry of Health funds us to deliver under this contract. Media releases referring only to the outputs delivered for this one strategy and ignoring the rest has lead to highly misleading cost information being reported.
There are in fact five strategies in the contract and we have concentrated our efforts on the brief and early intervention strategy because this fits our community better. In the same time frame as we delivered the six community assessments quoted by members of parliament and media, staff also delivered 174 early and brief interventions, 78 over the required 96. These interventions are aimed at shortening the course and decreasing the severity of gambling related problems. It involves explaining to people how to recognize a gambling problem and administering a brief screening test and intervention. This has always taken place in community settings. The 6 Community assessments that have been the focus of attention are those six people who were referred into the service.
Marlborough is a different community to the larger urban centres and the approach and strategies that we employ are different. We realised fairly quickly that people were not going to roll through the doors admitting that they were addicted to gambling and that we needed to get out into the community to raise awareness of gambling related issues. We developed a road show to deliver to people who might be in a position to refer to the service such as General practice, community workers, government organisations and other Maori health groups. We advertised in the local newspaper and linked with other groups with an interest in this area. This is a new service for us and so it takes some time to establish it in the community.
It is our experience as health workers that gambling related problems exists in reasonable numbers in Marlborough. One compulsive gambler can cost a community millions of dollars and the effects for families and community from embezzlement, family breakup and suicide are enormous, especially in small close nit communities. Gamblers often don’t seek treatment until they are in serious crisis - if at all.
We met with a representative from the Ministry of Health earlier this year and discussed our mutual concern around the lack of direct referrals. It was agreed to alter the contract slightly to reflect the larger amount of community and brief intervention work we carry out and Te Rapuora developed a plan to increase referrals.
Te Rapuora Health Service strongly asserts that we have not taken or misused any money from this contract and that we have reported our activities and accounted for the funds to the Ministry of Health as required.
Te Rapuora Health Services
20 October 2006