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Ruth Snowden has started a lot of things in her life that she hasn’t completed.  “Something always got in the way, or I just lacked confidence,” says Ruth.

Thanks to her employer, Oceania Healthcare and work-based training provider Careerforce, Ruth is very proud to have successfully completed her Apprenticeship in Diversional Therapy.

“This has been a big accomplishment for me. I feel very proud that I’ve done it, and very thankful,” says Ruth.

The Auckland-based Diversional Therapist has a natural ability to connect with the elderly, lift their spirits and enrich their lives. 

Diversional Therapist Ruth Snowden

Ruth’s desire to work in care and support, was influenced by her mother who lives with polio and limited mobility.

“I always wanted to be a nurse, but I didn’t get that far.

I have always had a passion for working with the elderly. I want to give a good quality of life to those who are near the end of life, to give them a sense of belonging and to live out their days the best way they are able to.” says Ruth.

“I support the residents who are no longer independent.  It can be challenging and I look for behaviour changes, and decreases in condition.  I use a holistic model, to look at every aspect of a person’s life in their care plan, and look at their past interests, to try and create something to keep them interested.

I would pick up the guitar and sing. The residents would sing and I could just see the mood lift

“As a health care assistant at another facility, when my work was done, and I’d finished the cares, I would pick up the guitar and just go around with the guitar and sing. The residents would start singing and I could just see the mood lift.”

Being an Activities Co-ordinator was a natural fit for Ruth, and when a role was advertised, she was asked to apply. She did apply, and despite lacking confidence, she landed the job and that’s when her apprenticeship journey began.

Being furloughed during the pandemic meant that training was paused for Ruth.

In a new role at Oceania’s Remuera Rise, Careerforce Apprenticeship Advisor Shane Bennett helped Ruth get the ball rolling again.

“We had to get it underway quickly, or it would all have come to naught, he told me”, says Ruth.

“It was a challenge. I’m good practically, but I wasn’t looking forward to the theory.  When it came to reading the questions, I didn’t understand what was required.

“Shane was great. Once he helped with my understanding of the questions, I was away, I could fly! He was just brilliant.”

“My clinical manager at Remuera Rise also supported me. When Shane wasn’t available, she sat and explained what I was expected to do, in simpler terms.”


I walked out of there feeling really uplifted, and thinking ‘I can do this, I can complete it to the end’

Ruth also gained confidence through attending a noho marae, provided by Careerforce’s Rōpū Taupuhipuhi Āmio / National Mobile Support team.  These events offer kanohi-ki-te-kanohi (face-to-face) support for Māori and other learners working with the Te Ao Māori unit standards in their programme.

“I thoroughly enjoyed the ‘family gathering’ concept. To be able to sit with Māori and other cultures, and just grab knowledge from others who are going through the same apprenticeship was invaluable. We were able to learn from each other,” says Ruth.

“There was great encouragement from the tutors.  I walked out of there feeling really uplifted, and thinking ‘I can do this, I can complete it to the end’. And now I feel very proud that I’ve done it.”

Ruth Snowden with Careerforce Apprenticeship Advisor, Shane Bennett


Ruth has an infectious passion for her residents

Shane says, “It was an absolute pleasure working with this awesomely gifted Wahine Toa. Ruth has an infectious passion for her residents and supporting her to transfer that dedication into her apprenticeship assignments over coffee and frappes was a genuine pleasure.

She is a walking, talking bundle of fun and joy and I will miss supporting her. Her workmates and the residents she works with will certainly have their lives enriched.”

Ruth says completing her apprenticeship has not only boosted her confidence, but also encouraged her to continue her learning journey. 

“I don’t know what it entails, but I want to have a go at mental health now,” says Ruth.

For more information about Careerforce supported apprenticeships, contact Careerforce, a business division of Te Pūkenga.