Published December 14th 2021

Epilepsy New Zealand educators are providing life-changing support to people around the country diagnosed with epilepsy.

The charitable organisation’s team of trained educators provide free support, information, advocacy and education to people living with epilepsy.

E-Referrals can be made to Epilepsy NZ using CareSelect.

One person with epilepsy describes the life-changing impact an Epilepsy NZ educator had on their life.

“My first seizure came out of the blue. I felt scared, vulnerable and worried about the future for me and my family. However, my world changed after I reached out to an educator.

“They spoke with me and I felt for the first time someone was listening as I offloaded all my worries, fears, and uncertainties for the future, myself and my family. I felt validated for first time since my first seizure occurred.”

The educator linked their family to community support and helped them navigate the situation with their employer.

“I was able to put a care plan in place, should I have a seizure at work. Educators are a vital support service for all people and communities living with or without epilepsy. Me and my extended whānau are forever grateful for the support we received.”


Support groups key

Epilepsy affects around 1% of the population and an estimated 48,000-50,000 people have epilepsy in New Zealand, Epilepsy NZ chief executive Ross Smith says.

Once a person has been diagnosed with epilepsy by their neurologist or GP, Epilepsy NZ continues the education and support.

“We’re part of the wider healthcare team and we help the person in their journey, supporting them every step of the way,” Ross says.

Support groups are a key part of that support, says one educator.

“Sometimes the diagnoses and impact of seizures can knock the resilience of individuals. Support group attendees benefit from the group experience, often soaking up information and learning effective coping strategies from other participants who are doing well.

“There is no time limit on when they share their personal story. When the individual feels the time is right, they often open up about their challenges and fears.”


Support at schools

Another educator describes the support offered at schools.

“After a prolonged seizure, I met with a young girl and her family to help them understand more about different types of seizures, first aid, seizure management plan (SMP) suggestions and ideas for her at home and school.

“I went to the young girl’s school, to give an understanding epilepsy training session to the teaching staff. We also talked about the young girl’s SMP, and other challenges she may face. Learning about epilepsy, her seizures and the SMP, really helped them all to have more awareness and gain confidence.”


How to refer to Epilepsy New Zealand:

  • Open the patient record
  • Select the HealthLink icon
  • Use the CareSelect search bar, type “Epilepsy New Zealand”
  • Click “Compose Referral”.