Te Awhina clinicians adopt UCOL student's breathing technique tool


2 October 2018

From left to right Te Awhina CNM Heather Coffey, UCOL nursing student Leah Akkerman and her placement support nurse Lilly Hepi.

Te Awhina – Whanganui District Health Board’s Acute Mental Health and Addictions Inpatient Service nursing staff have adopted a breathing technique used by a second-year UCOL nursing student to help calm a Te Awhina patient who was experiencing extreme anxiety.

Student Leah Akkerman heard about the Box Breathing Technique tool from a friend serving in the New Zealand Air Force. Developed by an American navy SEAL, the technique was found to be very effective when people in the services were facing stressful situations.

When Mental Health and Addictions Services clinical nurse educator Pauline Humm-Johnson saw Ms Akkerman using the tool with a client she asked if she would consider developing easy-to-follow instructions that Te Awhina staff could carry on their lanyards and patients could refer to when they are feeling anxious.

Mrs Humm-Johnson says while Te Awhina staff had used breathing techniques to help clients manage their anxiety, none had seen the Box Breathing Technique tool in use and they liked what they saw.

Ms Akkerman says one of the things she likes about the technique is that it’s easy to practice away from work and at any time. “The second time I used the technique with a Te Awhina patient it was just as successful as the first time. My UCOL tutor Helena Keyes has been very supportive of me developing this work with Te Awhina.”