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Starship Launches Culturally Responsive Team, Ringa Atawhai, To Help Transform Healthcare Experiences

Starship launches culturally responsive team, Ringa Atawhai, to help transform healthcare experiences of mokopuna and whānau

In a first for Starship, the Paediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU) will be home to a dedicated culturally responsive multi-disciplinary team, Ringa Atawhai.

Translated as the nurturing hand of support, Ringa Atawhai is a new and innovative model of care. It is part of the hospital's PICU expansion, funded as part of Heath New Zealand|Te Whatu Ora’s ongoing national intensive care development programme. Ringa Atawhai will be piloted over the next 12 months.

Tama Ariki Ora (Starship’s Māori leadership team) celebrated the launch of the new initiative this Wednesday, with a pōwhiri to welcome the inaugural Ringa Atawhai team, comprising of five specialist roles: a Māori nurse specialist, social work specialist, Kaimanaaki – cultural specialist, allied health specialist and mental health clinician.

Health New Zealand | Te Whatu Ora Director of Māori Health for Starship, Toni Shepherd, says that Ringa Atawhai was birthed amidst the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic and quickly grew momentum as services continuously advocated the need for culturally safe, holistic support.

“With the rigour of a multi-disciplinary approach that brings mātauranga Māori and clinically informed care together, this could be the future of providing culturally safe and comprehensive healthcare to mokopuna and their whānau moving forward,” she says.

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Research shows that mokopuna Māori experience illness at greater rates, have increased co-morbidities, poorer intergenerational health outcomes and higher mortality rates.

Ringa Atawhai will help to transform these realities and experiences for tamariki, mokopuna and their whānau, she says, while raising the capacity and capability of Māori clinicians within child health, including PICU and Starship, of which Māori make up three per cent.

“In the first month, the team will work closely with key individuals to develop a leading mokopuna-centric, whānau-focused, whānau-led model of care that will go live in the PICU on Thursday 28th March.”

Ringa Atawhai is part of the Starship Child Health Strategy, says Health New Zealand | Te Whatu Ora Director of Starship Surgical Services, John Beca. “We launched the new strategy during Matariki 2022, which focusses on equity, underpinned by Te Tiriti o Waitangi, and recognises Starship Child Health’s obligation, purpose and responsibility to the current and future mokopuna of Aotearoa.

“I’m proud of how far we’ve come at Starship. Unfortunately, not all mokopuna in Aotearoa have experienced the same standard of health, so we must think differently and do things differently,” he says. “Ringa Atawhai is our commitment to that.”

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