Te Pae Hauora o Ruahine o Tararua MidCentral (Te Whatu Ora MidCentral) is proving that a non-regulated (kaiāwhina) workforce can be a qualified workforce too, with more than 50 staff now enrolled in the NZ Certificate in Health and Wellbeing Level 3 through Careerforce | Te Pūkenga.
Kaiāwhina is the over-arching term used to describe non-regulated roles in the health and disability sector, and reflects the mana and immense contribution of this large and diverse workforce.
Recognising the value of Te Whatu Ora MidCentral’s kaiāwhina workforce
The kaiāwhina training initiative was officially launched in October across the Palmerston North and Horowhenua hospitals. The inaugural cohort of kaiāwhina staff from the acute care, medical, mental health, operating theatre, outpatients, and older adult departments will move through a year-long, on-job training programme to become NZQA Level 3 qualified.
Te Whatu Ora MidCentral District Director Jeff Brown said having 52 staff enrolled in a nationally recognised qualification was the first step to helping them gain the recognition they so deserved. Speaking to some of the cohort at the official launch, he highlighted their importance and stressed that, although sometimes referred to as an ‘unregulated’ workforce, this did not mean they were an unqualified workforce, and he was expecting all enrolled to complete successfully.
Once staff are awarded their qualification at the end of the 12-month programme, they become formally recognised for their skills and knowledge, and demonstrate competency to provide person-centred support under the direction of a health professional.
Te Whatu Ora MidCentral Nurse Educator Raewyn Ormsby-Lobo, who has been instrumental in leading the training initiative, said, “We have long recognised the value of our kaiāwhina and their outstanding contribution to patients and their whānau, as well as their support of our nursing staff. We are committed to acknowledging the very valuable contribution our kaiāwhina make within the clinical setting.”
With many kaiāwhina brought in to help during the pandemic, Raewyn adds, “Covid-19 highlighted nationally the untapped potential we have in our kaiāwhina. The focus to nurture and grow their knowledge and skills has been highlighted as an organisational priority.”
Partnered with Careerforce | Te Pūkenga to deliver the on-job training
Te Whatu Ora MidCentral has partnered with work-based learning provider, Careerforce | Te Pūkenga to ensure the necessary resources are in place to manage the training of its staff. As a work-based programme, all training takes place within the workplace. This model works very effectively for kaiāwhina staff where, in some instances, they may just be getting formal recognition for existing competencies.
In February this year, Careerforce Workplace Advisor Elaine Dittert was approached by the Nursing Education team to discuss training options that could be tailored to their specific needs, and to help oversee the initiative.
Elaine says she’s delighted to see Te Whatu Ora committed to upskilling such a valued workforce across the district, and getting to play a role in that: “This is one of the things I love about this job – talking to an organisation about an idea and bringing it to fruition… All the departments have been really engaged to make this work.”
Careerforce Learning Engagement Advisor Heather Leslie has also come on board to train 14 senior nursing staff to become Careerforce registered assessors to then assess the enrolled learners against the unit standards of the 70-credit programme. She has also facilitated several workshops for the 48 staff who will observe the learners during their training – these observers capture naturally occurring evidence that demonstrates learner competency as part of the assessment process.
“We could not have progressed as far as we have without the help of Elaine and more recently, Heather. They are approachable and totally focused on making the process for myself, the assessors, observers and all our kaiāwhina staff as smooth as possible,” said Raewyn.
Te Whatu Ora MidCentral will look to roll out the training initiative to more kaiāwhina in the new year with another cohort, including those who are working with district nurses in the community. The success of this initiative to date has also led to interest from other Te Whatu Ora regions.