An elderly perspective on the qualities of a healthcare assistant

An elderly perspective on the qualities of a healthcare assistant

Chandni Steveni and Joyce Pearman

The need for healthcare assistants is on the rise due to an increasing demand for their services from an ageing population, a recent Occupation Outlook report by the New Zealand Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) has revealed.

New Zealand Tertiary College (NZTC) recently launched two health and wellbeing qualifications, a New Zealand Certificate in Health and Wellbeing – Health Assistance Strand (Level 3) and a New Zealand Certificate in Health and Wellbeing (Advanced Support) (Level 4), to support this need in the health sector.

Joyce Pearman believes that qualifications like NZTC’s are necessary to produce healthcare assistants who give their clients the personalised care they need.

Joyce – who turns 90 years old this year – lives by herself in an apartment in Brown’s Bay, Auckland, and is a member of North Shore Centres for Mutual Aid (CMA) – a non-profit organisation that offers companionship, crafts, games and other activities for over 65s.

It was through CMA that Joyce was introduced to healthcare assistant and NZTC student Chandni Steveni, who helps her with everyday tasks such as providing meals and groceries when Joyce is unwell, making home visits on special occasions, going on outings and making regular phone calls to keep in touch.

Chandni extends her care beyond these tasks by also being available to Joyce when she needs to talk to someone about emotional issues.

Joyce believes that, in addition to qualities like a natural caring instinct, patience and empathy, it is the extra effort to get to know the person being cared for that sets a healthcare assistant apart from the rest.

“It’s very important that whoever you care for, you know a bit about them and what they are interested in. By communicating with the person about something of importance to them, you will make them feel valued and at ease,” said Joyce.

Joyce served in the British women’s air force during World War II, and has lived all over the world in places like London, Hong Kong and the Pacific Islands. After her husband passed away, Joyce settled in Christchurch, where her daughter was living at the time.

When her daughter got transferred to Australia for work Joyce relocated to Auckland, where she was introduced to CMA.

“As we grow older, it’s more important to always have something in mind to do. As long as you have something to look forward to, you don’t have time to sit and wonder,” shared Joyce.

“Things are changing so much in the world, you need to get out and notice what’s happening.”