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Waitemata DHB staff were thrilled to receive special recognition at a graduation for Careerforce-supported trainees.  Over twenty students graduated with an NZ Certificate in Health and wellbeing (Health Assistance) Level 3 for hospitals and the health sector.

Waitemata and Waikato DHBs, with the support of Careerforce, co-designed this contextualised training programme for their healthcare assistants, in clinical areas such as mental health, acute care, maternity and outpatient’s clinics.

Trista Milne (back row, 4th from right), Natalia Janssen (middle row, 4th from right, Isabelle Zhang (front row, 4th from right), Margie Shirley (front row, 1st right)

DHB Nurse Educator, Lynley Davidson identified four standout graduates who applied skills learnt in a practical and effective way.  “We try and give awards in a way that is connected to our values: ‘connected’, ‘compassion’, ‘best care’ and ‘better, best, brilliant’”.

The ‘connected’ award went to Isabelle Zhang from the Emergency Department. “Isabelle’s written work gave several examples of connecting with patients.  One example is Isabelle used the technique of ‘distraction and building relationships’ that she’d learnt on the course with a patient with dementia who was upset to help her calm down.”

“Mental Health worker, Trista Milne took away the ‘compassion’ award.  She provided evidence about working compassionately with clients who have experienced grief and loss,” says Linley.

The ‘best care for everyone’ award went to Natalia Janssen from the general medical ward who demonstrated her awareness of changes to patients and action. She identified a patient who had deteriorated quickly, and immediately alerted the RN who was able to act quickly to get the medical help the patient needed. Natalia is now studying to become an Enrolled Nurse.

The ‘better, best, brilliant’ award went to Margie Shirley from the Operating Room (OR). “Margie recognised and flagged to a doctor a patient with a developing pressure area. Preventing pressure areas are a major focus of the Health Quality Commission and the DHB and it was great to see Margie using her education in this way and making a real difference,” says Lynley.

Two of the four standout graduates, Isabelle Zhang and Trista Milne shared their experiences.

“I feel my work is meaningful when I am able to help patients relieve their stress, pain and suffering,” says Health Care Assistant, Isabelle Zhang.

“I was often at a loss to know what to do when I encountered patients with dementia who may have challenging behavior. However, during my training, I learnt how ageing affects the nervous system and creates symptoms that cause challenging behaviour.  I understood the reasons for the way they act, what the contributing factors for dementia are, and how to manage it.

“When I completed the training, I felt more confident to face challenges I encounter in my work, resolving a lot of problems myself using the skills I’d learnt.

“The graduation ceremony was about celebrating our efforts and achievements. When I heard I was the recipient of the special award, it was such an amazing surprise to me. I felt so proud that my hard work was recognised and valued.

“This training provided skills and strategies which were effective in solving problems when I applied them to incidents I encountered in actual clinical practice.”

Mental Healthcare Assistant Trista Milne assists the Multi-Disciplinary Healthcare Team to provide care for service-users, and their family/whānau safely and effectively.

“I engage with service-users in a holistic way, supporting them with their spiritual, emotional, physical, cultural, mental and social needs,” says Trista.

“Seeing unwell service-users come in a bad state, sometimes with loss of function or not wanting to live and loss of dignity and hope, then working with them over time, and seeing them become well again and walking out the door with a more positive outlook on their life.  It is humbling!

“I found the training rewarding as it filled in gaps for me and has enabled me to add more value to the team.  I was ‘stoked’ to receive an extra award for being compassionate.  The training was a stepping-stone for me and gave me a solid foundation to start my next training.”

Trista is now enrolled onto the Careerforce Health & Wellbeing (Level 4) Mental Health & Addiction Support.


More information about this programme can be found here on the Careerforce website: