A Shout out for health blog by NZNO delegate and member leader Rachelle Smith.
My name is Rachelle and I work in the Bay of Plenty. I am a Health Care Assistant on a ‘high acuity’ medical ward, where we also specialise in looking after the elderly. High acuity means that patients need lots of immediate care, unlike conditions you can manage over a longer term or outside the hospital. So it can be quite full on, but I love my job.
My satisfaction comes from impacting lives in a positive way, and providing quality care that meets my patients’ needs and helps them achieve their goals. We provide a holistic approach to care, where we encourage whānau to give us feedback and input. This supports both us and the well-being and safety of each patient.
I am passionate about engaging others on the effects of chronic underfunding of health care in New Zealand. I see this every day in my own work, but I’m still learning through our Shout out for health campaign how it affects every other part of our health system too. I’m part of this campaign because each of the patients and families we work with are worthy of our time, quality care, and our advocacy.
On reflection, I see our health system as a framework, a framework that supports our families and wider communities. When our framework is built on a foundation of underfunding, like building on sand, it becomes compromised and the whole long-term system that keeps our communities going starts to break down. This shows itself in big ways, like longer waiting lists, but the little ways are just as important too. Simple things like an appropriate comfortable chair for our older patients now are a ‘luxury’ item. But a comfy chair can make all the difference for someone who is old and in pain. Facilities need to weigh up whether they can afford to purchase these things against all their other growing expenses. It’s not a simple case of providing what patients need straight away anymore. These decisions take more thought and time.
Healthcare staff and other organisations are doing their best to fix these little gaps in the framework. But if the Government dedicated more funds for health than it does at the moment we would have a stronger foundation to build on. We could provide ‘uncompromised’ care and ensure every New Zealander could achieve their own health goals. The Government needs to put a higher priority on the well-being of the whole population, especially when they are in need of a little extra help from healthcare services and staff.
I know that little things like comfy chairs for the elderly end up adding up to make a big difference to the quality of our lives. I want a strong health framework, not just for my patients, but to support the kind of country I want us to be for future generations.