A group of Rehabilitation Support Workers at Stanford House of Whanganui District Health Board have recently completed the New Zealand Diploma in Health and Wellbeing (Level 5) Applied Practice. For most of them, they have been in their roles and in the industry for over twenty years, but they knew there is always room for improvement.

“I want to be the best possible support worker I can,” says Richard Hemingway, one of the graduates. He has been working there for twenty-four years. Alongside his colleagues, they started their training with the support of industry training organisation, Careerforce.

There were no promises of a pay rise nor a promotion. They were simply wanting to be better at what they do to support their clients, who need long-term rehabilitation around health and mental health challenges, community living, day-to-day skill development, employment and education.

Regina Whittle, another graduate, said that having a supportive group was key to their success. She shared their approach; “we had study days where we’d all get together at work and just do all our study together, threw ideas around and bounced these off each other.”

The graduates said that the diploma-level training was designed to draw from their extensive experience and the assessments really challenged and stretched their thinking.

“For me, the diploma says that we’ve been operating at that higher level for some years and just confirms where we’re at. The critical analysis module allowed me to evaluate everything I do and see how I can improve on how I deal with things,” explains Richard.

For Regina, the challenge came from trying to put her knowledge, skills and experience down in words, but she has now found renewed confidence after achieving the diploma.

“I did struggle initially because I hadn’t done any study since we’d done the Mental Health Certificate some time back. However, after the first couple of modules, I really started enjoying it, particularly the research side of it, which opened my eyes up to all these new learnings.”

Fiona Wallace, Careerforce Assessor, supported the group through their journey. She worked closely with them, challenged them and prodded them to bring out what she knew they were capable of. “From an assessor’s point of view, the breadth and depth of learning that was demonstrated over the training was so rewarding.”

“This group certainly illustrates what we can all achieve in working together. With the support of an excellent management that recognises the value in further training, the organisation benefits and ultimately the tangata whaiora benefits,” says Fiona.

Inspired by the success of their peers, another group has since expressed interest in pursuing the diploma-level training. With funding and assessor support from Careerforce, there is no stopping them from achieving the diploma.

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