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Placing the wairua (spirituality) back into health conversations

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

Conversations about death and dying are often difficult and can be even more so if the resources that are available are not suitable for your culture.

"We know through literature and research that the discussions around advance care planning (ACP) are different for Māori and non-Māori, Pacific peoples, migrants, everyone," offered Northland DHB director of nursing and midwifery Margareth Broodkoorn.

Northland DHB was tasked by the national ACP cooperative to lead the work with Māori consumers and healthcare workers, to develop culturally appropriate resources which meet the aspirations of Māori patients and whānau.

In 2014, a Northland Māori ACP working group was established and in 2015, the working group hosted two co-design hui to consult with consumers and healthcare workers.

"We hosted a survey, talked with people and ran two workshops (Whangarei and Kawakawa) which brought together clinicians, healthcare workers, whānau and consumers to look at what resources were available and assess how culturally appropriate they were."

As a result "He Waka Kakarauri" - a model to engage Māori in conversations that are important for future health and end of life care needs - was developed.

"Based on a waka model, people are encouraged to have conversations about their health, when they are well and when they are sick, dying or have died - that are tika (are right), pono (are true) and aroha (shared with love), and are held at a time and in an environment that is culturally appropriate to Māori," Margareth said.

The guide is self-explanatory for patients and their support people and as Northland DHB Kaumātua Te Ihi Tito notes "is the first model that I have seen in a long time that places the wairua (spirituality) back into health conversations, and for this we are eternally grateful." April 16 was Conversations That Count Day, to raise awareness about advance care planning so that people start thinking, talking and planning for their future and end of life care.

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