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Walking the talk in the care of tamariki
Being Mums with their own tamariki ensures the newest members of the Tamariki Ora WellChild team, Dani Atfield and Bailey McLean, understand the struggles other whānau face.
The pair started working as Tamariki Ora nurses midway through 2018, joining the existing team of Romane Stockman, Dee Weir, Sonya Popovich, Carmen O’Carroll and Ngamata Skipper.
Both are nursing graduates and fellow classmates of Western Institute of Technology at Taranaki (WITT), graduating in 2016.
Dani, a mother of a one and a four-year-old, says a desire to work with children inspired her decision to train as a nurse.
“I had been tossing up between teaching and nursing. I decided to go with nursing as I felt it would enable me to further my knowledge and training.”
The skills she’s learnt in her study and work ensures she’s also learning about her own children’s development, putting it into practice in both her mothering and career.
Being a Tamariki Ora nurse at Tui Ora means visits to mothers and babies in varied situations.
“We have some very down to earth, practical Mums as well as others grappling with a range of issues. Part of our job is helping them access the right people at the right time when they are ready. There is a lot of education that happens. People make assumptions about mothers in terms of what they know, but sometimes simple things like knowing when to brush a child’s teeth – they can be oblivious to that.”
Bailey agrees: “I have a five-year-old and when he was little I remember that clueless feeling and I think it’s important to start with the basics.
“It’s assumed that Mums have prior knowledge of what they are doing but they don’t – especially young Mums. Often you don’t know what you are doing.”
Other health professionals can also overwhelm people with jargon and information. “You have to prioritise that knowledge that we give because there’s a lot to take in,” says Bailey, who started her nursing career in occupational health before switching to the Tamariki Ora role where she feels helping people is a real focus.
As well as being a new Mum, Dani comes with an understanding of cultural differences. Her partner is Malaysian Chinese, which means she understands first-hand the tension that can occur.
“It’s important to go into homes with an open mind. Families practice things in a particular way and as long as they are doing it safely we need to respect that.”
Dani covers Waitara and up to Mokau, as well as Inglewood. Bailey works in west New Plymouth as well as Opunake and Coastal Taranaki.
Bell Block and eastern New Plymouth is Romane’s area while Dee covers the rest of New Plymouth.
The other members of the TO team are Sonya Popovich (Outreach Immunisation Service Coordinator & VHT) Carmen O’Carroll (Kaiārahi) and Ngamata Skipper (Oranga Hapori Community Nursing Team Leader).