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The health and wellbeing of those living on Waiheke Island is on the improve as an increasing number of health support workers take part in training, empowering them to deliver more consistent and an increased level of care in the community.

Twenty two support workers from the Waiheke Island Health Trust have recently graduated, seven from the level 2 National Certificate in Health and 15 at level 3 of the National Certificate in Health, Disability and Aged Support (Foundation Skills) Disability and Aged Support (Core Competencies).

The Trust is a community based charitable trust that provides publicly funded health care services to the people of Waiheke Island. Services include home support services, Ostend Medical Centre, Child and Family Health Service, district nursing, social work service, Meals on Wheels, physiotherapy, occupational therapy, school nursing service, radiology and health education and promotional activities.

The Waiheke Health Trust Home support service provides home-based care to the local community. On average, 200 clients receive help from a team of 40 support workers. Some of the services provided include personal care, housework, shopping, meal preparation and medication prompts. They also provide some palliative cares, community integration support and in-home respite.

“The training has allowed the Trust to feel more confident in our staff’s abilities when we apply for home support contracts and funding. It has recently become mandatory to have a certain percentage of our staff qualified at level 2 and 3, and we are now well above those percentages. We completely believe in investing in education for our home support staff,” says Jessie Russell, Homecare Team Leader.

The Waiheke Health Trust has been working with Careerforce since 2007, to recognise and extend the skill base of its team through workplace training. They were part of a pilot programme to roll out a new level 2 qualification for community based home support staff.

“The staff feel better prepared to face the daily challenges that home support workers encounter. No one day is ever the same and they now feel more empowered to help the clients with confidence. I have certainly noticed they take more pride in their role having a qualification.

“Some of the support workers who have successfully gone through the training haven’t done any type of study since they left school, often 30 or 40 years ago. They have been apprehensive about doing any formal training, so they are really excited and proud when they graduate.”

The trainees have had a positive experience with the Careerforce training programmes. “From day one the workplace advisors have been amazingly supportive and knowledgeable. They are really passionate about education and are always available to help with any roadblocks or barriers to getting our staff qualified,” adds Jessie.

Carrying out the training as a group allowed the team to support each other. “As they work remotely in the community, it’s a great chance to get together and share some of the difficulties they face. It’s a great bonding experience and really helps with team building.”

Most importantly, the training has benefited the clients. By having support workers who have completed a qualification, clients receive a more consistent level of care. “They have more trust and confidence in the support workers skills, and their ability to advocate for them. The support workers are able to quickly recognise and report signs of ill health or any other concerns they may have for the client.”’

The training has empowered trainees and allowed for recognition. “‘I would not hesitate to recommend the training. Support workers need to be recognised and valued for the amazing and crucial job they do. By providing qualifications it will regulate and lift the image of the support worker, and the ability to gain a recognised qualification, while working, is fantastic incentive.’

As for future plans, the Waiheke Health Trust has 15 support workers completing the Open Minds, Open Doors, supporting people with dementia qualification in October. They also hope to make Foundation Skills part of their induction for new staff.

15 September 2015

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