kaitautoko mate huka (diabetes)
What does your role involve?
Supporting whanau along their journey with diabetes from the beginning or at various stages. My role particularly focuses on supporting Maori who have diabetes out of control or uncontrolled (hbA1c greater than 80), and whanau who are newly diagnosed.
I work as a combination of a health coach and cultural support worker, enabling whanau to manage their diabetes themselves. I help whanau identify their goals and make plans to achieve these, motivate them to make positive lifestyle changes, reduce any high-risk behaviours and manage stress Ė all of which will improve their overall health and wellbeing.
Iím also there to help whanau find their way around our health system which can be complicated at times and look for opportunities to provide education and connect to other services.
Can you tell us about your team?
Iím part of the Diabetes Integrated Team. Iím employed by Tui Ora and I work within a multi-organisational diabetes team supporting people with diabetes (PWD) to enable better health outcomes. The team includes a diabetologist (diabetes specialist doctor), diabetes clinical nurse specialists, dietitians, podiatrists, a psychologist and three kaitautoko.
I’m currently working with a group of health professionals to ensure safe prescribing of IV cyclophosphamide (a chemotherapy drug) to non-cancer patients. I’m also involved in training our intern pharmacists, our current intern is nearly ready for her final exam!
Whatís your background?
My background is customer service Ė 15+ years managing in the retail sector. I enjoyed meeting a whole range of people and hearing a wide range of stories.
What’s the best thing about your job?
Itís being able to do something Iím interested in doing, I have a drive for bettering whanauís experiences with diabetes. Being a type 1 diabetic (I donít get offended in calling myself a diabetic) I enjoy supporting people with the care that I didnít get on my journey and being able to apply lived experience to make their journey smoother.
Your inspirations for your mahi?
My whakapapa. Being responsible for my health, the health of whanau, hapu and iwi Ė to look after our people here in Taranaki. What is important? He Tangata He Tangata He Tangata - it is the people!
Any big plans or dreams?
I just finished my Diploma in Raranga Toi. Next year Iíll start my 2-year degree in Raranga. I hope to be able to use my art as a way of healing with whanau with diabetes Ė I relate the raranga (weaving art) as piece of whenu (strip of flax). The whenu are like whanau who come in to our services needing help and go out of our services when they are feeling well Ė and then they can weave back in if they need to again. Whanau living with diabetes to me is more than just the chronic disease. Itís aligning Te Ao Maori with our health services and looking after all aspects of health (wairua, physical, mental).
What do you like to do outside of work?
Iím a single mum of twins Ė most of my time is spent with them adventuring. I work within my hapu (Ngati Te Whiti) and contract to New Plymouth District Council for art and design mahi. Weíve just finished the design process for the Kawaroa Playground. In any other spare time, I focus on my studies, I enjoy making Rongoa (Maori medicines) and weaving.