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How is Epilepsy New Zealand using their COGS grant to make a difference in Gisborne?

Epilepsy New Zealand provides support in the Gisborne region to individuals and families living with epilepsy. In 2019, the Community Organisations Grants Scheme (COGS) funding enabled their community educator to log 76 advocacy meetings with health professional, social service, educators and employers in the region and provide one-on-one support to 9 clients and their whanau.

The following story illustrates how the Hawke’s Bay/Gisborne educator, has made a real difference to people with epilepsy. Names have been changed to maintain confidentiality:

John attends an intermediate school in Gisborne and he was having several seizures a week. These were a mixture of tonic clonic seizures* lasting a few minutes and focal seizures**. His seizures terrified him and his family, who didn’t understand what was happening. They called the ambulance when it wasn’t necessary, didn’t give him his medication properly, and kept him from school when he had seizures.

The educator talked to John’s family about his epilepsy and explained the importance of his medication. She also spoke to his teachers at school about epilepsy and developed a bespoke seizure management plan with them. The family are now giving John his medication regularly, his seizures are under control and he is able to self-manage his condition and attend school.

This story shows that appropriate support for people with disability and health conditions has a flow on effect to their communities by reducing stress on their families and support networks, and allowing them to be engaged and active in society.

*Unconsciousness, stiffness, and shaking
**Loss of awareness