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As Careerforce celebrated its 10,000th Foundation Skills Graduate this year, Waiheke Health Trust can remember starting the journey.

“Eight years ago we did Careerforce’s Foundation Skills training pilot, so our support workers were the first to graduate,” says Jessie Russell, Waiheke Health Trust’s Homecare Team Manager. “Training is so important as it helps to regulate the workforce and improve the quality of support. Workers feel better about themselves and their jobs. It’s well deserved pride and recognition.”

Jessie now has a team of 48 support workers providing a range of services for 300 clients – from people with disabilities to ACC clients, medical or surgical patients and palliative care.

“Our support ranges from birth until death, quite a responsibility!” says Jessie. “These jobs are so important, and we have a long way to go in this country to acknowledge the true value of these workers.”

Jessie’s passion and commitment was reinforced eight years ago when her own daughter Maija was born with significant physical disabilities. Now a vibrant and enthusiastic eight-year old, Maija has little muscular control, and relies on a motorised chair to move around.

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Maija

“My daughter will always require someone to do everything for her. She’s totally vulnerable in that respect, she can’t protect herself in any way,” says Jessie. “People like Maija are at the mercy of their support workers. This weighs quite heavily. One day Maija might move into town and be more independent. I really hope training is mandatory by then, and that workers have all the skills and knowledge they need.”

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Jessie Russell and daughter Maija

Over the years Waiheke Health Trust has had some logistical barriers to training. This has been helped enormously by a grant from Te Pou; mobile assessor/trainer Bea Hugil; and Careerforce Workplace Advisors Denise Mackres and Deb White.

“We have a 100 per cent completion rate for our training. Bea does the training in groups, which works really well. I do think there are still gaps in the learning, for example anatomy and physiology, enhanced personal cares, infection control. I’d like to see all of that stepped up, as it’s such an important part of the job.”

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Waiheke Health Trust Core Comps Graduates 2012

“One of the best things is to get to the end of that training journey. We make a really big deal out of graduation. Last year we rented a hall and had a lovely catered event for our Core Competencies (Level 3) graduates. It’s really special to be part of that sense of pride and achievement.”

“And the best thing is our clients notice a change after the training. They notice their support workers are more aware and more confident. That’s what it comes down too. Delivering the best possible care to the people who need it most. Like Maija.”