The Diversifying Allied Health Workforce project team
Relative to our local population, Counties Manukau Health (CM Health) allied health workforce is vastly underrepresented both in terms of Māori and Pacific staff. Only 7% of allied health professionals working in CM Health are Māori and 10% are Pacific. The Diversifying Allied Health Workforce project team, working on the Mana Taurite – Equity in Health campaign, have taken it upon themselves to tackle this issue, which has been a challenge for a number of years.
“Our workforce needs to better reflect the ethnicity of the local population. A culturally competent health workforce is critical to delivering services that attend to the diverse needs of our population. Research shows that the capability of healthcare organisations to achieve better outcomes is reflective of its patients’ and community values”, says project lead Haidee St John.
“Our ultimate aim is for patients to feel represented, have a better experience of care and improved outcomes. I strongly believe that if we have a workforce that better represents our population, not only patients will have a better experience, but our work colleagues as well,” complements Ms St John.
Equity Campaign programme manager Tracey Popham believes that by employing local people to work in frontline positions and leadership at CM Health, we can also make a significant difference to our community and contribute towards achieving health equity.
In order to reach the long term aim to increase the number of Māori and Pacific allied health staff to reflect the Counties Manukau community, the Diversifying Allied Health Workforce project team will: engage with Māori and Pacific students to encourage them to pursue an allied health career; engage with whānau /family groups to develop support mechanisms for students to pursue an allied health career, and will work to upskill local school career advisors. Given that allied health covers nearly 40 professions, the focus will be on the four where the workforce is most under-represented in terms of Māori and Pacific staff: Physiotherapy, Occupational Therapy, Dietetics, and Pharmacy.
In July, the project team held a Myth Busting Day to upskill career advisors of South Auckland secondary schools on allied health careers and also on how the advisors could specifically support Māori and Pacific students into these careers. The project team has incorporated the feedback received from participants into their plan and will now focus on the following activities: the development of an e-learning package to improve career advisors’ and students’ knowledge of allied health careers and pathways, the Allied Health Workforce Expo, and targeted focus groups with students and also families/whānau to gain more understanding of their perspective and the barriers to becoming an allied health professional.
Allied Health Workforce Expo – On September 8, Year 10 South Auckland school students will have the opportunity to understand more about allied health professions and the pathways to become an allied health professional. The Allied Health Workforce Expo will take place in the Ko Awatea Centre. “We hope to encourage more young Māori and Pacific students to pursue an allied health career by giving students a better understanding of how to become an allied health professional, what these professionals do, where they can work and how much they can expect to earn,” says Ms St John.
Mana Taurite – Equity in Health campaign
Aligned with CM Health’s strategic plan, the purpose of Mana Taurite – Equity in Health is to innovate and identify what works to reduce health inequities for the community of Counties Manukau by December 2020 by:
- reducing the disparity for childhood obesity or healthy weight for children from Māori and Pacific communities in Otara – Counties Manukau (Healthy Kids workstream)
- reducing the disparity for identified health outcomes for Māori and Pacific patients and whānau in participating services in Counties Manukau (Healthy Services workstream)
- increasing the number of Māori and Pacific staff across our workforce and potential workforce to reflect the Counties Manukau community (Healthy Systems workstream)