@Heart has been providing support services to children with heart conditions and their families since 1984. Our practical and emotional support is vital for those affected, helping them cope with the day-to-day challenges of living with a childhood heart condition.
The services we provide include (but are not limited to) information, training, counselling and psychological support, specialised equipment, camps, family matching, social affiliation and financial assistance.
Download a copy of @Heart information brochure.
Family Support is one of @Heart's key strategic goals, aiming to develop the Family Support Services to create a nationwide network of support workers, trained and motivated to work with our heart kids, teens, adults and their families.
Our team of dedicated family support workers provide much-needed support to heart families when they are in hospital and when they return home. They visit families, assess their needs, provide practical and emotional assistance, and connect them to appropriate community services and professional help.
As part of our Family Support services, we publish information leaflets about Children in Hospital, Starship Hospital, Ward 23B (National Paediatric Cardiac Unit) and Returning to School.
This section of the website provides online access to the full text of our print material which you can view online, download and print.
New Family Support members
Our Family Support team is getting bigger and stronger with the addition of two new members: Filipa Chipper, National Family Support and Services Manager, and Chris Orchard, Family Support Worker with Hawkes Bay@Heart.
Filipa has rejoined our organisation after a 5 ½ year stint in the UK. She was the National Manager for Family Support from 2004 to 2006, and worked with previous CEO Garth Halliday to lay the foundations of our existing Family Support structure. She is now the Family Support and National Services Manager responsible for leading a team of 27 Family Support staff. Filipa said, “It has been absolutely amazing and rewarding to see how much the Family Support structure has grown and developed, as envisioned.”
During her time away, Filipa got married to her Kiwi husband Matt in her home country Portugal. In the UK, Filipa held senior roles with health related charities where her main focus was to develop support services for patients with heart conditions and cancer. She has also gained extensive experience in the Human Resources field as a freelance consultant, working with an array of
industries in both the private and public sector. Amongst this, she managed to find time to complete two Masters Degrees – one in Clinical Psychology and another in Organisational Consultancy. In her spare time, she tried to fit in as much travel as possible and spent time with her family in Portugal and the UK.
Another valuable member joining our Family Support team is Chris Orchard. Chris was the Clinical Charge Nurse of Paediatric Cardiac Services at Starship Children’s Hospital. She has recently moved to Napier and joined Hawkes Bay@Heart as the new Family Support Worker.
Chris has recently moved from Auckland to Napier, leaving behind a 36 year career as a nurse at Green Lane and Starship Hospitals.I had been spending more and more time down here with friends and I finally gave in to their requests to move here. I am the mother of 2 adult children, Ryan and Danielle who both remain in Auckland.
Over a number of years Chris has volunteered at Camp Brave Hearts and also the Special Olympics. She gains immense pleasure from observing children with heart defects grow up and achieve goals that they have aspired to from an early age.
Chris has a good understanding of the unplanned journey @Heart families travel. It is of paramount importance to her they are all provided with effective support throughout this journey as well as being able to access services and information. She looks forward to catching up with the many @Heart families she has met over the past 30 years, meeting new families and providing support to them all.
Camp Brave Hearts
Camp Brave Hearts is a dynamic national camp where Kids@Heart aged between 8 and 12 years can participate in a range of outdoor activities in a fun, safe environment under the careful supervision of a medical team. Camp Brave Hearts is a great opportunity for children to try new experiences and to get to know others with similar health challenges.
Camp Teen Beat
Camp Teen Beat caters for Teens@Heart aged between 13 to 17 years. Like the Camp for younger participants, this five-day outdoor pursuit camp focuses on learning life skills and building friendships, confidence, and self-esteem in teenagers with a childhood heart condition. It is an opportunity for them to mix with their peers, get to know others with similar experiences and challenges, as well as, where applicable, talk to professionals and other young people about their forthcoming transition into the adult cardiology wards of Auckland Hospital.
@Heart's Anti-Coagulant Machine Project - changing lives
These blood testing machines (designed for home use) can be provided free of charge to @Heart members on anti-coagulant medication.
Prior to the Anti-Coagulant Machine Project, blood testing meant lengthy visits to a laboratory or hospital and blood taken from a needle inserted into the child's vein. For the children, the tests were frightening and traumatic.
With Anti-Coagulant machines, blood testing now means no pain, no tears, nor car trips. Parents and children can conduct the required blood test themselves, at home, with just one drop of blood taken from a finger prick. It's quite simply changing lives.
@Heart’s Anti-Coagulant Machine Project has been running for over ten years, increasing the quality of life of hundreds of children and families across the country.
SaveMart has been the main sponsor of @Heart’s Anti-Coagulant Machine Project since 2004.
Read more here.
Members of @Heart can register to receive a Stainless Steel MedicAlert bracelet funded by @Heart. The bracelet contains the toll-free number of a specialised emergency response centre. Emergency responders can call the centre to quickly access the wearer’s medical information, enabling appropriate emergency treatment.
If you’re a member of @Heart who would like to receive a free MedicAlert bracelet, please complete and return the MedicAlert Enrolment Form to @Heart to verify your membership. We will send your enrolment form to MedicAlert for processing. Please note that you also need to have your GP complete and sign the Enrolment Form.
If you are interested to receive a free MedicAlert bracelet or CoaguChek machine, please contact:
, Family Support and National Services Manager
Ph: 09-377 9950 ext 809
Free phone: 0800-543 943
Check out what's on offer for young people in New Zealand living with a congenital heart condition or who have acquired a heart condition in childhood.
You'll find a "Guide to" series of links and information pages on the care for adults born with a heart defect, as well as Scholarships which are available.
Fomerly called Boot Camp, Heart Forum gives an opportunity for heart adults aged between 18 - 25 years to attend workshops and training sessions that cover a range of topics. They also have the opportunity to socialise, network and have fun. In the meantime if you have any enquiries please contact
, Family Support and National Services Manager on 09 377 9950 ext 809.
Adults with Congenital Heart Conditions
The needs of Adults with a Congenital Heart Defect (ACHD) are very different from the needs of those born with healthy hearts but acquire a heart condition in their adult life due to lifestyle choice. If you are an adult with a congenital heart defect, you have come to the right place. Annette Rief is @Heart's Adult Cardiac Liaison Nurse based at Auckland City Hospital. Find out more about our support for ACHD.
Patron Teen Scholarships
The Patron Teen Scholarships were introduced in 2007 with the aim to help our heart teens aged between 17-20 years to further their personal and educational development. These scholarships are associated with the names of our Patrons Sir Richard Hadlee, Mr Alan Kerr and the late Margaret Mahy.
Congratulations to Eleanor Pepper (Palmerston North), Jessie Gordon (Auckland) and Brittney McKenzie (Timaru) who are the recipients of 2012 Patron Teen Scholarships. Despite having an incurable heart condition, our scholarship recipients do not let their heart conditions stop them from pursuing their dreams. They demonstrated outstanding achievements and admirable qualities. Their positive and hardworking attitude, love of life and learning, and determination to succeed are highly commended by the Trustees.
Eleanor Pepper, recipient of Sir Richard Hadlee Scholarship
Described by those who know her as a talented, motivated, mature and caring young lady, Eleanor (17) is an exemplary student who has done well on all fronts. She has achieved NCEA Levels 1 & 2 with Excellence despite battling with high blood pressure last year whilst preparing for NCEA Level 2 exams. She took on various leadership roles and represented the school at regional and national competitions in sports, debate, speech and writing. She has also participated in numerous science, technology and leadership forums. Despite a busy school life, she is actively involved in the local community. She is a Palmerston North Youth Councillor, a cellist with the Manawatu Youth Orchestra, and a volunteer at Arohanui Hospice among others. Her goal is to become a doctor, possibly a heart surgeon. The Scholarship will be used to fund her university study, helping her realise her goal.
Jessie Gordon, recipient of Margaret Mahy Scholarship
Jessie (18) was born with half a heart. Whilst still in her mum’s womb, her parents were told that she would not make full term because of her heart condition, let alone teenage years. She had her first major operation at just three days old. Jessie is aware that she will need further surgery later in her life probably in her mid-twenties. However, she doesn’t let her heart condition hold her back. She wants to pursue a career in nursing and has been offered a place at Unitec for the Bachelor of Nursing programme. Jessie is a confident young lady with a quiet calmness and gentle personality contrary to the image of a martial arts instructor. She holds a black belt in two systems of martial arts and has been teaching Kung Fu and Tai Chi to children and adults for a number of years. Being a martial arts instructor requires great responsibility and mana, qualities that Jessie clearly carries. Jessie has been actively involved with @Heart helping out at branch activities and @Heart events, and has always been a role model for other heart kids and teens.
Brittney McKenzie, recipient of Mr Alan Kerr Scholarship
Living with a congenital heart condition doesn’t stop Brittney from giving her utmost in life especially in sports where she has achieved great success. Representing New Zealand at the 10th Special Olympics World Winter Games held in South Korea in January, she has done our country proud by winning two silver and one bronze medals at the Games. She was chosen as the flag bearer at the closing ceremony of the Games. Also tucked under her belt are three silver medals won at the 2011 NZ National Winter Games at Cardrona. Brittney is currently in her second year at Aoraki Polytechnic studying Fashion Design. She will attend Nelson Polytechnic next year to get her degree. The McKenzie family has been a part of Timaru@Heart for many years involving in national heart camps and many other events.
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