The ANIVA Whitireia Pacific Nursing Leaders Fellowship Programme met with the Hon Tariana Turia, Associate Minister of Health, in Auckland.
In early August, members of the Aniva Whitireia Pacific Nursing Leaders Fellowship Programme had the opportunity to meet and talk with the Hon Tariana Turia, Associate Minister of Health, in Auckland. Minister Turia is also the Minister for Disability Issues.
Fuimaono Karl Pulotu Endemann chaired the evening seminar which was organised as part of the Aniva Core Leadership Seminar Series.
Minister Turia’s experience in Parliament has spanned 16 years, during which time she’s noted many experiences of seeing Māori, Pacific people and people with disabilities marginalised.
In 2011, the Minister asked for the Pacific health portfolio, as she saw it as a key opportunity to act as a conduit for Pacific people’s issues in health. She says her role in Government is to ask questions of those who control resources on behalf of Māori, Pacific and disabled people.
Using the occasion with the Minister, the group of Pacific nursing leaders shared some of their experiences and perspectives from working on the frontline with Pacific communities.
Pacific nurses are in the unique position of serving some of the most vulnerable families and communities. One nurse in the group noted that when making her home-visits she found out that often Pacific families did not answer the door when non-Pacific nurses called as they were sometimes ashamed of their overcrowded living arrangements.
The need then, to influence mainstream responsiveness to Pacific peoples needs and issues was a challenge noted by group members.
A number of the nurses talked about the provision of cultural support for their Pacific patients through their health care journey. Communicating to patients in their own languages is important for improving adherence to treatment noted another nurse.
One nurse leader talked about need for more Pacific nurses in order to better meet patient needs. With the prominence of complex conditions such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes and strokes among Pacific patients, the nurses noted how they were playing an increasing role in facilitating the link between primary and secondary care.
Other nurses discussed developments in the health and disability sector, such as how the change to community rather than hospital based services will enable earlier access and prevention of complications.
While nursing is the largest Pacific workforce in the country, a number of nurses emphasised the need to continue to grow the nursing and midwifery workforces, and develop leaders in these areas. Some of the nurses in key leadership roles discussed how they are using their positions to influence increased recruitment of Māori and Pacific nurses.
As Minister for Whānau Ora and Associate Minister of Housing and Social Development, it is not surprising that one of the Minister’s messages was about the need to integrate health with other social determinants, noting that “health alone can’t heal the wellbeing of our families”.
The Minister talked about her strong support for public health and primary health care. She also noted her view that Community Health Workers had not been valued enough and she saw their potential to complement the work of health professionals by also accessing families and supporting whānau in the home.
While the nursing leaders discussed some of the challenges facing the Pacific health sector, they also told the Minister about the many service improvements, and innovative solutions in Pacific health, such as parish nursing models, and the Whānau Ora approach being piloted at Pacific health providers, with families in Auckland.
The Minister had attended the launch of Alliance Health Plus earlier that day. She understood the challenges of meeting the needs of patients, and “how hard we all have to work.”
The Minister also showed her genuine support for one nurse in the group. When the Minister found out that Iurieta Pati was fundraising for her one her talented sons to attend the Cardiff International School of Voice, in Wales, she organised for Iurieta to get two bottles of wine autographed by the Prime Minister. The bottles were auctioned and raised $700 for the fundraising effort.