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Community Support Worker Karen Kell’s completion of the National Certificate in Health, Disability, and Aged Support (Foundations Skills) (Level 2) marks a significant milestone for health and disability employers and Careerforce. Karen, who works for Idea Services (IHC) in Motueka, is the 10,000th trainee to graduate with Foundation Skills.

The highly successful Foundation Skills course is an introductory work-based training programme for support workers and carers in a health, disability or aged support setting. Since the first trainee completed Foundation Skills in November 2007, there has been an average of four graduates a day.

“Training is a reflection of quality and competence,” says IHC National Manager Learning and Development Gill Odell. “Foundation Skills is compulsory for all of our front line community support workers, because we want to support them to be qualified with the skills and knowledge they need.”

Based in Motueka, Karen’s community support work is divided between residential and independent living support for people with intellectual disabilities.

“I’ve always liked helping people and supporting them, and I enjoy this work because of that,” says Karen.

“Idea Services is so organised and supportive, and they have really high expectations of all of their staff. The training made me feel proud and confident, and more professional.”

Karen says she was pleasantly surprised at how relevant and practical the training was. “At first I was reluctant. I thought – oh no – another pile of rules to learn. But it was so awesome for me. I was rapt when I found out that the course was largely focussed on understanding where our clients are coming from and how to better communicate with them.”

“The training has really helped me to be better at my job. I didn’t have to learn the hard way by making mistakes. I have a much better understanding of the people I support and their needs.”

“And I’ve recently done the dementia training, which was a total eye-opener, I just learnt so much.”

“The guys we support are gaining a lot from what we’ve learnt. We’re so much more in tune with where they’re at and what they’re going through.”

“Some of them have lived in institutions all their lives, but I don’t feel sad for them now. Their quality of life here is so good. We support them to choose what they would like to do, and help them to set goals and plan how to achieve them.”

“The real perk in this job is in knowing these guys are getting the highest standard of support. It’s so nice to know we’re making a difference and they’re happy.”

June 2013