Bethesda Care, a retirement village in Manukau, has opened its doors to students from four South Auckland secondary schools, so they can experience what a career in the healthcare sector might be like.
The secondary students are learning the interventions and therapies required when maintaining the wellbeing of the Bethesda residents, who range in age from 52 to 101.
Director of Nursing, Dr Noeline Whitehead says it is through this interaction, that students will know whether health care for older people, nursing, physiotherapy or occupational therapy is really the career pathway for them.
On their first day, Dr Whitehead says, she explains to the students how to treat the residents:
“I talk about the importance of valuing and venerating older people. I emphasise that when they enter Bethesda they must show the same respect as when they visit their grandparents. This helps them develop a new set of skills, particularly the soft skills required for this line of work.”
Students learn that the physical, social, sensory and intellectual therapy given to residents can be given in creative ways, like making a sand garden or helping with personal care and grooming.
“This work can be so rewarding and make such a difference to a person’s life. We need to show this to students so that they consider some of these healthcare options for their future employment,” Dr Whitehead says.
She says it is also valuable for the residents to relate to young people and many have given the teenagers guidance and have played a part in developing the students’ confidence.
“Our residents have a shrewd knowledge of student capabilities and help to select staff when there are vacancies.”
The ideal situation is when students who have previously been on placements apply – that way she knows they have the skill set, training and hands-on experience to cope at the retirement village.
The school students from four schools – Mangere College, Aorere College, Southern Cross Campus and the Auckland Seventh Day Adventist High School – in the Mangere-Otahuhu Youth Guarantee Network participate in the placements at Bethesda as part of a Level 2 health programme. It is offered in tandem with their school, and private training organisations such as the Academy of Vocational Studies.
Places like Bethesda provide the ‘hands on’ component for the course and students earn sector-related credits while they work. The credits go toward a Vocational Pathways Award in the Social and Community Services, which positions them for a career in health. They can continue to study for a Healthcare Level 3 National Certificate or progress to a Bachelor of Nursing.
General manager of the Corporate Academy Group, Kelly Storey, says there is a huge demand for healthcare staff in South Auckland. Middlemore Hospital is based in the area, as well as Bethesda and other rest homes, where there is also a need for community nurses and caregivers.
Training organisations, such as the Corporate Academy Group in association with New Zealand Careers College, and schools, have seen the opportunity to match this demand with a course teaching young people the right skills.
Ms Storey emphasises that business support is important to get these courses running as it is the business that allows students to complete the essential ‘hands on’ work experience component.
“If we want students to persevere when they get into the workplace, they need to have a ‘taster’ of what it’s really like. The healthcare sector can be challenging and it’s not for everyone. To help ensure that the pathway is a successful choice, it is essential to see what is involved at an early stage.”
The Ministry of Education’s group manager for Youth Guarantee, Arthur Graves, said of the project: “This sort of collaboration between business and education will ensure that school leavers are highly skilled and ‘work ready’. Relevancy in education is crucial, and can only be achieved when industry are actively involved in supporting curriculum decisions.
“We are encouraging businesses and schools to source similar partnerships around the country. Learning happens both inside and outside of the traditional classroom.”