19 February 2016
Launch function: Initiative to support obese patients
A collaboration between researchers from Victoria University of Wellington, the University of Otago, Wellington and the
health care industry is aiming to better support obese patients in a range of healthcare settings, and is being launched
early next week.
An initiative called BMI, which stands for Bariatric Management Innovation, is a joint collaboration between Dr Caz
Hales—a lecturer at Victoria University’s Graduate School of Nursing, Midwifery and Health—and Lesley Gray, a senior
lecturer from the University of Otago. They are joined on the project by Todd Bishop, the Chief Executive of Essential
HelpCare, a company that provides equipment to hospitals and other healthcare providers to support patients in their
treatment and recovery.
Dr Hales says the aim of the BMI initiative is to research and develop ways to improve support for very large patients,
to ensure the care they receive is safe, appropriate and equitable.
“Currently in New Zealand there is no platform that focuses on the needs of people who are very large and require health
services. Our research initiative aims to address this. We are currently looking at the perceptions that health
professionals have, and the language we use in relation to size, stigma and the quality of healthcare for larger
people,” she says.
Ms Gray says the BMI initiative will provide independent and industry-supported research in the areas of service
provision, the education of healthcare professionals, and will also examine the perspectives of people who use the
“Our focus is not trying to change these patients,” says Ms Gray. “When very large patients come into care—be that
hospital, a rest home, or even palliative care—they have basic needs which must be met in a safe and equitable way. This
could be anything from a hospital gown that fits, to equipment including beds that are appropriate.”
The launch of BMI takes place at 4pm on Monday 22nd February at Wellington Hospital, and the opening address will be
given by Associate Health Minister, Hon. Peter Dunne.