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Empowering retirees’ independence

A new tablet-based health, safety and connection system, designed with the collaboration of Kiwi seniors, has won the financial backing of Qestral Corporation and is now installed in 200-plus independent living homes at Alpine View Retirement Village in Christchurch.



CEO of Spritely, Christopher Dawson, developed the system after his father suffered a medical event at home.

“I thought there had to be a way technology can help Kiwi seniors like Mum and Dad, not just to be safer, but also to be healthier and more connected.”

John Ryder, Executive Chairman of Qestral Corporation, describes Spritely as an important innovation in the New Zealand aged-care sector.

“We’ve invested in Spritely because we believe in its potential as a sector-wide solution to a number of big issues.”

Spritely addresses:

• A sensor in the home triggers an alert if there’s no movement after 10am (called ‘awake and well’ monitoring)

• Health vitals measurement and tracking; with wireless blood pressure machine and scales
• Day and time-packed medication dispensary and delivery (called ‘club med’)
• Medication alert reminders

• Digital phonebook
• Video calling
• Digital noticeboard
• Events and notifications
• A live weather forecast
Alpine View is the first retirement village in NZ to make this kind of touch screen communication system available in every house and apartment. Serviced houses and apartments also get additional Spritely Care features, including personal health monitoring etc, as outlined on their website.
Spritely is now available for retirement villages, with a ‘community version’ already in development.


Quality Imaging using AI Tech

To provide for the rapidly evolving technological advances and interest in Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI), Pacific Radiology has purchased its fifth MRI scanner for Canterbury, the top of the line Siemens 3T Magnetom Vida, now installed at Forté Health on Peterborough Street.

MRI technologists Simon and Stephen with the new machine at Forté

MRI scans are minimally invasive and very safe; they do not use radiation and there is no exposure to x-rays.

MRIs image soft tissue structures in the body – for instance, the brain, eyes, heart and ligaments around joints such as shoulders.

Stephen Kingston Smith has been working as an MRI tech with PRG for more than 11 years.

He was involved in researching the purchase of the new machine and was impressed with the latest advancements the Vida has to offer.

“The patient has a much more comfortable experience,” Stephen says. “The opening on this scanner is wider, which improves the experience for the claustrophobic patient.”

Stephen was also impressed with the scanner software and computer advancements.

The new Bio Matrix capability of this scanner uses artificial intelligence (AI), which auto-detects motion and results in some fantastically clear images.

“It can scan a bigger range and has sensors which help image clarity in the case of patient movement and respiration. Scan times are also quicker on this machine,” Stephen says.

The new generation of MRI scanners produces much better soft tissue contrast in shorter scan times and is being used to scan the abdomen and pelvis with exquisite detail.

MRI is now being used routinely to screen for prostate cancer, small bowel disease and breast cancer, to mention a few.

Pacific Radiology radiologists and neuroimaging specialists are excited by the continuing growth and advancement in MRI.

MRI advanced imaging techniques of the brain. The colours are showing the direction of the nerve tracts within the brain.

Gareth Leeper, charge MRI technologist at Pacific Radiology, says, “The new scanner at Forté is producing the best pictures we have ever seen of the nerves right down to the hands and feet, and we have seen an increase in the number of referrals for imaging of the leg and arm nerves in patients with chronic pain syndrome.”

Pacific Radiology has built a team of talented medical professionals who have a wealth of knowledge trained extensively in MRI.

The new MRI scanner at Forté will help address the growing demand for MRI scans.

The team is excited to be bringing the absolute state-of-the-art to enhance their late model fleet of MRI to the people of Canterbury/West Coast.

Plant-based Problems?

Eating, which was once a subsistence-driven activity motivated solely by the need for survival, is today driven equally by taste, fulfilment and efficiency as we increasingly seek food that is as quick to prepare as it is tasty. Add sustainability and nutritional efficacy to your plate and it’s a lot to chew.



So if we’re looking for planetary sustainability in our food sources, how does that stack up against nutrition? Not comfortably, according to Dr Caryn Zinn, a New Zealand Registered Dietitian and senior lecturer and researcher at AUT, with more than 20 years’ experience in the nutrition and health industry.

Joining other high-profile panellists, including New Zealand Governor-General Rt Hon Dame Patsy Reddy and Maury Leyland at Blinc Innovation’s ‘Sustainable Protein: Healthy People and Planet’ event, which explored how we can co-create a healthy world, Caryn raised concerns about the nutritional basis of plant-based diets.

Pointing to the ‘planetary health diet’, created by international commission EAT-Lancet to provide nutritional guidelines while also addressing farming’s negative role in driving climate change, she says she has “a big problem, nutritionally and health-wise with the diet”.

Her colleague Dr Zoë Harcombe, an obesity researcher in the United Kingdom, analysed the EAT-Lancet diet, with the researchers finding that the diet was high in carbohydrates, and sugar in particular, low in protein (i.e. less than current guidelines), and insufficient in several important micronutrients, such as vitamin B12, vitamin A, calcium, iron and sodium. While there was a good amount of fat, Caryn says she has big concerns over the quality of those fats.

There’s also a concerning imbalance of omega 3 (from processed inflammatory seed oils) to omega 6 in there – an imbalance which is the root cause of chronic inflammation – and the vitamin K that we get from plant-based diets is also in a form that is less able to be utilised optimally by the body.

“What’s worse, is that if we go fully plant-based (i.e. vegan), we’ve got vitamin B12 and DHA as issues and they need to be supplemented,” Caryn says. “Plant-based diets are completely devoid of vitamin B12 and have very limited DHA, a crucial fat for brain development and reducing inflammation.”

The co-author of four books in the What the Fat? series, Caryn is a proponent of what she calls the ‘low carb, healthy fat’. “What people don’t realise is that all carbohydrates turn to sugar in the body. “There is a body of evidence showing that carbohydrate-reduced diets have incredibly good efficacy for reducing weight, improving blood sugar control and for reversing type 2 diabetes.”

Those saturated fat rumours you’ve heard? Also not true, Caryn says. “In fact, it’s not the saturated fat that’s the problem, it’s the sugar that is the problem. Saturated fat is potentially neutral or beneficial rather than harmful – it’s certainly harmful when you eat the donut with the cream, but if you eat whole, natural fat from animals, it’s not a problem.”

So too has much of the research carried out on red meat been flawed, she says, combining all red meat – such as a nice piece of eye fillet steak that you get from a grass-fed animal with a hot dog – “I think the evidence around red meat and chronic disease is not solid”.
One of the biggest issues with the ‘plant versus animal’ studies that have been carried out is the ‘healthy user bias’.

“People who are eating plants in general are very aware of planetary health, they also tend to look after themselves, they tend to have positive health behaviours, so when you look at the studies, you’re always going to get a whole lot of positive behaviours that go alongside eating plants, as opposed to animals, so it’s an unfair study comparison.”

The population based studies that have been done have compared those that eat animals and those that eat plants, in the context of good quality wholefoods and she says “they found no difference in terms of longevity and health”.

“We are omnivores,” Caryn says. “We evolved with ancient foods like whole plants and whole animals. There’s this quote that we don’t see modern disease with ancient food, we see modern diseases with modern foods. We have become savvy with technology, which has been to our benefit in some respects, but has also been our worst enemy. We’ve now created pseudo food and food-like substances, and that’s what’s forming most of our population’s diet.”

When she talks of the ‘optimal’ diet, she talks of foods with ‘low human interference factor’ – “so the less processed, the less packaged, the better”. “I’m a big fan of beef, lamb and fish, but I’m also not a fan of overeating those foods, so I think eating the right amount that you need and combining them with vegetables and using good quality fats.

“The optimal dinner meal might be a piece of steak or lamb, leafy greens and a range of colours of vegetables cooked in either olive oil or coconut oil with lots of spices, salt and pepper.” So can plant-based be a healthy option? “I think it can be a healthy option, provided you supplement the things you’re missing.”

Gesturing towards two photos of burgers and fries, she points out that the only difference between these two photos are that one has less meat – fries are, after all, plant-based too. “If we think that by going more plant-based, the world is going to clean up its act and suddenly get more physically active and eat whole, unprocessed foods and look after themselves, that’s awesome, but the reality is, what we’re going to see is people are still going to be eating poor quality junk food, the difference is there’s going to be less meat in it and that could be a problem for not only chronic disease, but also for nutrient deficiencies, long term.

“I’d like to issue a global warning and that global warning is that we need to be very careful in that with this ‘action’ we don’t get a ‘reaction’ that might save the planet but in the process make the population unhealthy.”


Bridging ‘Sex Ed’ Gaps

Is ‘sex ed’ failing the #metoo generation? It’s a question that is being asked by a Canterbury education expert.



Navigating contemporary gender issues is already complicated for our young people and New Zealand’s traditional sexuality education is not keeping up, according to University of Canterbury Associate Professor Kathleen Quinlivan. Gender fluidity, consent, exposure to pornography, sexual violence and the power dynamics behind the #metoo movement are some of the issues Associate Professor Quinlivan explores in her new book Exploring Contemporary Issues in Sexuality Education with Young People (Palgrave).

“One of the main issues is this huge slippage between what young people need and what they are getting. We are in the era of #metoo, sexual harassment, sex and gender politics and those are things that young people really want to know about, but they are often not areas that teachers and parents are comfortable going into,” she says. The internationally recognised researcher of school-based sexuality education says a limited health and risk focus of sexuality education lingers. The fact that the word ‘pleasure’ was removed from the most recent (2015) Ministry of Education sexuality education guidelines is typical of a cautious official approach, she says.

Meanwhile, young people are taking matters in to their own hands, Associate Professor Quinlivan says. “There are feminist groups in schools and there are queer-straight alliance groups in schools that have strong social justice orientations, combatting discrimination and talking about pleasure – there are a lot of informal things happening that are not visible in the formal arena.” The gaps can be bridged, she says. In fact, Associate Professor Quinlivan advocates for teachers to listen to young people’s lived experiences and venture beyond traditional boundaries. “It is not easy teaching these things. The Ministry of Education is risk averse and doesn’t provide support for professional development, plus the Sexuality Education guidelines are not compulsory – in fact schools didn’t even receive a hard copy of them,” she says.

“Policies aside, the relationship with students is the most important thing for teachers to develop and that takes time. You have to be someone who is really interested in exploring the issues that young people are dealing with.” The possibilities for change are exciting, she says. “The rise of the #metoo movement has been huge – there has been a tidal shift. There is a new feminism where younger women are starting to stand up and talk about the things they experience. Through popular culture, in response to gender-based harassment, sexual diversity and the rise of #metoo, there is a renewed interest in gender activism – it is a bit of a moment really!”

The book was launched in New Zealand on 20 February to coincide with a symposium for academics and teachers at UC’s College of Education, Health and Human Development, titled Coming In Slantways: Sexuality Education Otherwise. Presentations and workshops enabled participants to explore and expand their practice, bringing the fruits of research to both educators and their students.

Exploring Contemporary Issues in Sexuality Education with Young People, by Kathleen Quinlivan, Palgrave Macmillan UK.

Keeping Winter Fit: Unichem Forté Pharmacy

Unichem Forté Pharmacy, located on Kilmore Street, is the ideal, convenient, central city pharmacy that offers a wide range of services, along with that ever so important carparking factor.


With winter looming, now is the time to be the smart cookie for you and your whanau, and think about those crucial vaccinations that safeguard family health, such as influenza (flu vaccine), whooping cough, shingles and meningitis vaccinations. For those who find winter equates with feeling the blues, a B12 injection lifts energy levels and fights fatigue; improves metabolism; helps with weight loss; increases concentration, boosts immune systems, and best of all, helps restore better sleeping patterns.

Breast pumps and tens machines (which give relief from labour pain as well as general chronic pain), are available for hire, and they also do medicine compliance packaging, e.g. blister packs, and free blood pressure monitoring. There’s a fantastic free delivery service for those living nearby, which is very handy if, for instance, you live in a retirement village and find it difficult to get into town. Owner of Unichem Forté, Annabel Turley, says she wants people to know that they don’t have go to Forté Health to access the pharmacy. “Anybody can come here. We welcome everybody; no matter what our customers might want or need to purchase, even if it’s to post their mail or get their ears pierced!” Annabel laughs.

Located at 151 Kilmore Street, open 8:30am to 5:30pm, phone 03 595 5493 or find them on Facebook at @fortepharmacy.


Canterbury Medical Research Foundation

The backbone of Kiwi health

Nelson Mandela once said, ‘It always seems impossible until it’s done,’ and next year the Canterbury Medical Research Foundation will have been doing the impossible for 60 years.


Canterbury Medical Research Foundation


Established in 1960 by Professor Don Beaven, the foundation has contributed $27 million and counting towards medical research. Put simply, a significant number of Canterbury’s 300 medical researchers working within the health and education sectors would not be able to undertake the ground-breaking medical research they are today, without the sustained and rigorous efforts of the the foundation.

The medical research funded by the foundation makes a real difference in the short, medium and long term, not just to the health of Cantabrians, but to health globally. General Manager Colin McDougall says, “lifting the bar for health is relevant to everyone,” and if the point needs illustrating, we only need look as far as Martin Than’s 2018 study on improving outcomes within the public healthcare system.


Canterbury Medical Research Foundation

Martin Than and a Christchurch team studied and applied nationwide changes for the assessment of suspected heart attack patients in the Emergency Department at Christchurch Public Hospital and throughout New Zealand. His research combined a wide range of the essential indicators and tests for suspected heart attacks. The care pathway developed and implemented has reduced previously 24-hour hospital admissions to under six hours in up to 50 percent of cases. The results have been outstanding, with good outcomes for patients and savings of $11 million dollars and 200,000 doctors’ hours per annum nationally.

The Canterbury Medical Research Foundation raises funds through donations, bequests and public events. The black-tie annual Wine and Art Auction is a sell-out each year, and held its 25th anniversary in 2018. Proceeds from the event go directly to a pre-approved research project. Events planned for 2019 include Opera Meets Art at Christchurch Art Gallery on 30 March which raises funds for neurological research undertaken by subsidiary company New Zealand Brain Research Institute. “More fun and incredibly worthwhile events are planned, where you’ll hear from the researchers themselves,” Colin says.


Canterbury Medical Research Foundation
Board Chair Geoff Cranko (left)
& General Manager Colin McDougall (right)

Board Chair Geoff Cranko says the foundation is very focused on supporting emerging talent, as well as retaining experienced researchers. “It is critical to retain talent in Canterbury for health outcomes, as well as for the sustainability of our community.”

Your donation or bequest can be tagged to particular research that interests you. You can meet the researcher, so you can clearly see the difference your support is making.
“With its history, infrastructure and breadth of research, Canterbury Medical Research Foundation is ideally placed to work collaboratively with other health services funders to provide much needed support to Canterbury’s talented researchers.”


Find the Canterbury Medical Research Foundation on Facebook and Instagram.


Mind over matter

Mind over matter

As we increasingly recognise the importance of emotional and spiritual health in the age of digital distractions, we’re faced with the task of climbing out of the mindless trap of scrolling through newsfeeds and into the mindful haven of mental wellness.


Mind over matter


Distraction will forever be the enemy of productivity and in a perpetually connected world where we arguably communicate more through the internet than we do in person, it’s quite easy to give into distractions while carrying out day-to-day duties such as work and exercise. If you’re depending on willpower, rather than designing an environment conducive to productivity, you’re bound to have a hard time resisting temptation.

By allowing mindfulness a place in our busy lives, we’re reminded to be present, to take time for ourselves and our bodies, and to prohibit ourselves from doing mind-numbing tasks such as scrolling mindlessly through our social media accounts.

Everyone knows that regular exercise has been shown to boost both mood and concentration, so cultivating mind-body integration via exercise is a powerful way to increase emotional and spiritual wellness, while promoting mindfulness. This can be as easy as focusing on your breath or listening to classical music (which has been proven to promote concentration) or a podcast rather than your playlist while you go for a run or use the gym.

Mindfulness apps have become a growing trend of 2019. We’ve checked out some of our faves. Limit your technology overload with Forest, a neat little app that can give you extra motivation for being present and focused. It’s simple – when you don’t want any digital distractions, you plant a seed in the app. As long as you remain in the app, your seed will grow into a tree, and the more you stay away from your phone, the thicker your forest grows. Track your progress and earn points that contribute to planting real trees around the world!

There’s no shortage of meditation/mindfulness apps, but one of our faves is Simple Habit. Designed for those who struggle to squeeze mindfulness into their busy schedule, Simple Habit offers a wheel of audio-guided meditations as short as five minutes for specific requirements, like needing a good night’s sleep or recovering from a tough day in the office.



Unichem Prestons

The heart of community: Unichem Prestons

Home is where the pharmacist is – at least that’s how the saying goes at Unichem Prestons. Pharmacist and pharmacy owner Ed Dawwas points out, “We are different because we like to engage with our community”.


Unichem Prestons


So much so, as one of their many services, they can conduct a home visit to help you in your medicine management. As we welcome autumn with a true sense of community spirit, the pharmacists at Unichem Prestons are preparing the surrounding community for the upcoming cold and flu season by providing free flu vaccines to pregnant women and patients sixty-five and over. To further protect yourself and loved ones from the potential cold and flu, pharmacists at Unichem Prestons are ready to answer your questions about other forms of preventative care including supplements and medicines.

Ed Dawwas describes Unichem Prestons’ role in the community as this: “We’re the first or last point of contact before a patient goes to the doctor or home with their medication. We have an obligation to enable patients to manage their health and what the doctor has prescribed them”. Be a part of the Unichem Prestons community. Like them on Facebook to find out about future events such as their upcoming Women’s Health presentation.


For more information, phone 03 281 7889 or email pharmacy@


Body & Skin Confidence

Body & Skin Confidence: Viora Skin Tightening and Body Contouring

We chat to skin guru Nicky Quinn about the latest technology in non-invasive treatments – Viora Skin Tightening and Body Contouring.


Body & Skin Confidence


Can you tell us a bit about your body contouring and skin tightening treatments?
Viora body contouring and skin tightening is a non-invasive and gentle treatment that uses radio frequency and vacuum therapy to tighten and tone the skin, contour the body and shrink fat cell volume. Loose or saggy skin is often formed after pregnancy, weight loss or just through aging as we lose the natural elasticity in our skin. It’s been great for tightening the “mummy tummy” loose skin, reducing cellulite and tightening up the skin around the eyes, jawline, legs and arms.


How does it work?
The radio frequency initiates tissue heating in the dermis layer of the skin, as well as the hypodermis below it (fat storage layer) to stimulate new collagen formation and facilitate the reduction of fat cell volume, resulting in improved and tighter skin texture. For body contouring, the combined mechanical vacuum therapy works on lymphatic drainage, minimising the look of lumpy skin and sculpting the body. Treatments take about 30 minutes, and we recommend between four to eight treatments for best results. It’s a fantastic alternative for those not wanting to go under the knife!


Are the treatments safe?
Yes, the treatments are FDA approved and clinically proven. The radio frequency energy used is non-ionising radiation, and on a scale of frequency is lower than the radiation from a TV or FM radio. In addition, it isn’t light based energy, so there is no danger of a skin response, unlike with laser treatments. It’s fast, effective and completely pain-free, with no downtime. Most clients describe the treatment as very relaxing!


Body & Skin Confidence


Body & Skin Confidence


Skin tightening treatments start at $199
Nicola Quinn Beauty & Day Spa
209 Papanui Road, Merivale
03 355 6400



Champs-Elysees Day Spa

Skin Deep: Champs-Elysees Day Spa

With today’s advanced facial treatments, it is possible to make a visible and lasting change to your skin.


Champs-Elysees Day Spa


Gone are the days of addressing symptoms; the future of skin care lies in looking at the underlying causes and developing a comprehensive and holistic treatment plan to restore health and integrity to the skin. A number of advanced cosmeceutical facial treatments are available at Champs-Elysees Day Spa.


DermaFrac – a micro-channeling technology ideal for treating dehydration, superficial lines, pigmentation, sun damage and uneven skin tone, the DermaFrac handpiece delivers a combination of dermal micro-needling and serum infusion in one cosmeceutical treatment, to renew and stimulate the skin’s natural restorative processes. Available from $199.


DermaFrac – a micro-channeling technology ideal for treating dehydration, superficial lines, pigmentation, sun damage and uneven skin tone, the DermaFrac handpiece delivers a combination of dermal micro-needling and serum infusion in one cosmeceutical treatment, to renew and stimulate the skin’s natural restorative processes. Available from $199.


Dermaplaning – using a scalpel, a trained aesthetician lightly exfoliates the surface of the skin to remove redundant skin cells and excess vellus hair, which can cause a build up of dirt and oils in the follicles.
An ideal treatment if you are pregnant but want deep exfoliation without peeling agents. Priced at $125 and allows for optimal product penetration for 4-6 weeks.


During March, book three Dermafrac treatments or three Collagen Induction Treatments and receive one for free plus a complimentary rejuvenating gel peptide mask. To book a consultation with a trained and experienced skin care specialist phone 03 365 3630 or visit