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Ara Health Practice Department Gives Back To Its Community

During a time when everyone’s wondering how the current medical emergency will affect them, Ara Institute of Canterbury Ltd’s Health Practice Department is doing its best to contribute to New Zealand’s response to COVID-19.

Research has firmly established the links between quality nursing, health care and positive patient outcomes, so in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic it is fitting that 2020 is the World Health Organization’s ‘Year of the Nurse and the Midwife’.

Within Ara’s Department of Health Practice , a register of names across all the disciplines, expertise and contacts was set up by Glynnis Brook, Acting HOD, which became a resource for hard-pressed district health boards who were keen to gain some extra assistance. Some of Ara’s social work team from the department of Applied Sciences and Social Practice added themselves to the list, while Jenna Blundell and Michelle Poulson, lecturers in the Department of Health Practice, made the trip out to Greymouth to support the West Coast District Health Board (WCDBH) by taking upshifts at the city’s Critical Care Unit.

A staff member at the WCDHB stated in reference to Jenna and Michelle that “Just by being here, they’re lifting our spirits.” Similarly, Jenna and Michelle expressed appreciation for Ara’s willingness to release them from their regular duties so that they could do this important work, and towards all of their departmental colleagues who remained in place. Jenna said “Hopefully we made a small difference. Colleagues from the WCDHB helped us during the time of the Christchurch earthquakes so it’s great to be able to repay the mahi.”

A number of Ara students expressed online how they were inspired by the pair’s initiative, with one student saying with reference to Jenna and Michelle’s efforts “We all felt an immense amount of pride, respect and inspiration both in yourselves and the vocation lying ahead of us. I can easily say that you and all the lecturers at Manawa are amazing!” Manawa, a partnership between Ara, the Canterbury District Health Board and University of Canterbury, has been a pivotal innovation in New Zealand’s health education system.

Ara’s Health Practice department has also been approached by the Canterbury District Health Board which sought assistance with training in the use of personal protective equipment (PPE) and safe practices for professionals working within the Aged Care Residential (ARC) context. Ara departmental leaders are expecting that some of their part- time teaching team may offer to be trained as ‘champions’ who will work to demonstrate best practice for other professionals in this field. Two of Ara’s technicians, Shane Luzak and Emmett Norton, have also been asked to assist in the SIM unit at Manawa with technical aspects of the training.

Pegasus Health has also reached out to Ara’s health experts. The organisation, along with the CDHB, requested the loan of some critical equipment from the Manawa campus’s SIM centre, namely tympanic thermometers and pulse oximetry, both of which were supplied.

This responsiveness is in keeping with Ara’s close relationship with the nation’s health organisations. The Ara health programmes have a history of working closely with the Canterbury District Health Board (CDHB) and other clinical providers to ensure that Ara graduates in nursing, midwifery and medical imaging have the relevant skillsets for an ever-evolving health sector.

Glynnis Brook, Acting Head of Health Practice , says “Our health education, including that of nurses, is now even more tightly integrated with the Canterbury District Health Board, the wider health system and researchers from the University of Canterbury. Ara’s health industry education was already collaborative and comprehensive, but we’re at the leading edge when it comes to the use of modern technology and industry responsiveness.”

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