Improving the lives and long-term outcomes of people affected by bleeding disorders since 1958

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HFNZ Adult Wellness Weekend 2022

Enjoying the sun aboard the Devonport ferryLiving with a bleeding disorder, or living with a person with a bleeding disorder, is challenging. The HFNZ Adult Wellness Weekend is an opportunity for adult members with bleeding disorders and their partners to openly discuss experiences, challenges, and concerns about living and aging with a bleeding disorder. The focus of the weekend is twofold: education about bleeding disorders, upcoming trends, and treatments, as well as socialising and reconnecting with peers from across the motu.

At the end of 2022 members gathered in Auckland, at the Novotel Auckland Ellerslie, for a weekend of learning and laughing. The weekend ran from 25 - 27 November. It was lovely to see members enjoying seeing one another again as they arrived from around the motu for the initial meet and greet on Friday afternoon. This highlighted one of the most important aspects of these national events: connection.

After some socialising and a bit of dinner, people gathered for the formal welcome, some knot tying, and a few words from Board Chair Deon York. The theme for this Adult Wellness Weekend was ‘The ties that bind us’. Deon spoke about how important it is that we carry our history with us, and that it informs our future decision-making.

The programme-proper commenced on Saturday morning, with the traditional members’ panel. Deon joined members Hemi Waretini, Kathryn MacGregor, Leanne Spencer, and Patience Stirling to share their bleeding disorder journeys. This is always a very powerful session, with the members sharing very personal and sometimes painful experiences, as well as the joys that can come with adversity. The key point that came from this session was how important it is for patients to be a part of their own medical journey, and for clinicians to listen to their patients.

Appropriately, the members’ panel was followed by a clinicians’ panel. Nurse specialists BJ Ramsay, Maureen Campbell, and Vanessa Minor, Haematologist Nicky Eaddy, and physiotherapists Cat Pollard, and Abhi Tikkisetty kindly gave us their time to introduce themselves to members and answer any questions from the floor. Coming right after the members’ panel meant that the clinicians had an opportunity to respond to some of the historic issues raised, as well as answer some current questions. We very much appreciated their time and expertise.

For the next session, we split into two groups. Outreach workers Darian and Loren took one session looking at ‘Strengthening the Ties’. While CEO Sue and outreach worker Tara took the other, which focused on ‘Ties from the Past to the Future’. Both sessions went very well. The first group talked about love languages, and how we support and empower one-another through our words and actions. The second group discussed how what HFNZ have done in the past connects to what we do now, and how that might look in the future. It was fantastic to see members contributing and enjoying each other’s company in a learning environment.

After a morning and early afternoon full of listening and learning, the rest of the day was given over to off-site activities. Again, members were able to select which outing they participated in. One group went to the Stardome Observatory, while the other headed out on the water, catching the ferry across to Devonport. The observatory visit was quite spectacular, with awesome views of the cosmos, alongside some learning about what’s what in NZ’s night sky. The ferry trip also went very well. After a lovely calm ride across the harbour, members spent some time wandering around Devonport village and stopping for a refreshment, before heading back on the ferry again. All had a wonderful time.

A long Saturday wound up with the, always contentious, quiz night. This edition was no exception. Teams battled it out over four rounds for the awesome solid plastic trophies, and the title of AWW quiz champs 2022. There was some intense competition, and laughter galore, before the winners were crowned, and everyone retired after a long day.

On the final day, members enjoyed HFNZ president Deon York talking about how we can all strengthen our ties with HFNZ. This included attending events, volunteering to support member activities, joining your local committee, and feeding back to the board and staff. This was a fabulous way to round out Adult Wellness Weekend, and allowed us all to reconsider the theme of the weekend: The ties that bind us.

This very successful event was appreciated by all who attended. It wouldn’t have been possible without the support of Kiwifirst, and the hard work of staff and volunteers. We’re looking forward to the next one already.