Careerforce Workforce Development Conference, 2–3 November 2015, Wellington

Industry bodies, union representatives, government officials, international experts and education providers all came together for Careerforce Workforce Development Conference in Wellington in November last year to discuss the development of New Zealand’s health, social and community services workforce. All agreed a large, competent and valued workforce is required to effectively meet the needs of New Zealand’s growing ageing population, and delegates grappled with how to meet this challenge.

There was a clear focus on creating opportunities for young people to join the workforce. Attention was given to the Government’s Vocational Pathways programme, which gives students a chance to pursue qualifications as they transition from secondary school to the workplace. Melany-Jayne Davies of Careerforce gave the example of a successful work experience initiative at Selwyn Oaks aged care facility for students from James Cook High School. Tina Sims from the Ministry of Education shared some innovative new approaches being considered to broaden the Level 3 curriculum involving partnerships between the school, workplace and tertiary education providers.

However, the issue of inadequate funding levels, particularly for the aged care and community support workforce, was never far from discussion with some suggestion that low pay would deter young people from considering work in these sectors.

Despite a tight funding envelope, it was heartening to hear of a variety of innovative ways that progress is being made in training, education and qualification attainment.

Associate Minister for Tertiary, Education, Skills and Employment Louise Upston announced the introduction of a New Zealand Apprenticeship in the health and wellbeing sectors. The apprenticeship, developed with Careerforce, will allow people to improve their work competency and earn while they learn. Upston identified that continued innovation, including a renewed focus on apprenticeships, is required to continue to meet the market demands for a more competent and skilled workforce.

In another initiative, Donna McGarvey of DHB Shared Services shared how the DHBs and unions successfully agreed to help health support staff achieve qualifications to enable higher rates of pay.

“If it is worth doing, money shouldn’t be the barrier,” said McGarvey, “If we waited for the DHBs to have enough money to fund [the initiative], we’d still be waiting.”

International keynote speakers confirmed other countries were facing similar challenges when it came to pay and funding levels.

Rod Cooke confirmed the same issue was preventing progress in Australia’s community services and health industry sector.

“If we want workers to buy into consumer-directed care we need to pay them more than the peanuts we are at the moment.”

John Rogers from England’s Skills for Health also talked about poor government investment, stating that of the £4.5 billion spent on health education in the UK, just three per cent is on the support workforce, which constitutes 40 per cent of total staff in the health workforce.

However, in spite of the funding barrier, both Rogers and Mairi-Anne MacDonald from Scotland shared ways the UK have managed to leverage training and qualification attainment. Rogers spoke about the need to focus on outcomes, rather than inputs, when it came to health workforce planning and the importance of putting the client’s needs at the centre.

The Kaiawhina Workforce Action Plan – introduced at the inaugural conference in 2014 – also has a strong consumer focus and delegates were updated on progress being made to achieve the early goals of the plan.

There is clearly still a long way to go in developing the much-needed ‘large, competent and valued’ workforce – however, the conference provided a valuable forum for stakeholders to work out the best way towards achieving this.

Dementia Care by Design, 23 February 2016, Rotorua

Dementia and aged care providers, Ministry of Health representatives and architects were among those who gathered at the Dementia Care by Design conference held in Rotorua last month to hear from keynote speakers Janette Spiering and Yvonne van Amerongen-Heijer, founders of the internationally acclaimed De Hogeweyk Dementia Village in the Netherlands.

“It’s always amazing to hear them speak and to learn about their experiences,” says Thérèse Jeffs, chief executive of Whare Aroha Care, the provider hosting the Dementia Care by Design conference.

Spiering and van Amerongen-Heiger were impressed by Whare Aroha Care’s new dementia facility currently under construction in Rotorua. It will be New Zealand’s first dementia village, based on
De Hogeweyk village. With foundations well underway, the village is expected to be completed in December this year.

Thérèse Jeffs said feedback about the conference was “really, really positive”.

The Dementia Care by Design conference and the Australasia Ageing conference in Auckland held in the same week both provided forums to discuss the challenges and successes of establishing a new village. Discussions ranged from what a New Zealand lifestyle and village looks like to meeting contractual requirements, training staff and financial modelling. The Dementia Care by Design conference included a panel session in which delegates had the opportunity to quiz the De Hogeweyk owners, the Whare Aroha Care operators, architects and others.

Thérèse Jeffs noted that there are many different models that effectively put the client at the centre of care delivery as Whare Aroha Care does, singling out Elizabeth Knox Home + Hospital and HammondCare as two examples that strive for person-centred care in different ways.

“Above all else, you’ve got to have passion and drive, or else you’ll never get anywhere,” she said.

Careerforce launches NZ Certificate in Health and Wellbeing Advanced Support L4

Since its conference last year, Careerforce reports huge movement on a number of issues. One area that has seen development is the launch of the newly developed L4 Advanced Support qualification. The programme, for senior support workers, focuses on supporting complex needs, palliative care, advanced dementia care and leading a team on the night shifts.

The flexible programme can be shaped to meet the needs of any residential, home or community care team.

All Careerforce training is now delivered under the REAL model – Respectful, Efficient, Applied, Living training which is focused on person-centred outcomes.


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