AS an apprentice hairdresser Ashlee Riri had to have great skills in communication and that's what she brings to her role as receptionist at Turanga Health.
“When I was at school I first wanted to be an architect, then a hairdresser, and that's what I did and got seven years' experience in that role,” says Ashlee (Rongowhakaata, Whakatōhea, Ngāti Porou).
“But when the job came up at Turanga Health in 2019 it looked like a chance to do something completely different, while still using some of the skills I already had.”
Ashlee's primary role is to keep everything running smoothly “front-of-house”. As well as looking after the work site she'll be answering and directing calls, greeting and signing in visitors, and generally making sure everyone gets to where they need to go.
“It can be pretty busy but it's fun and when you are dealing with whānau, you have to present a positive face for the organisation.”
And having had her own experience of trying – and failing -- to get the caring health support she needed, she truly values her current workplace.
“All our staff genuinely care about the people they are working with and that really shows,” she says.
“Turanga Health is very whānau oriented . . . they care about your wellbeing both in and out of work. It is definitely the best place I have ever been lucky to work for.”
WORKING as a database administrator for Turanga Health means Franzee Nuku spends a lot of time at her desk, but her employers were never going to let her get away with just that.
“During my school days I used to play a bit of sport but, with three children, it can feel like you don't have time for that sort of thing,” says Franzee (Ngai Tāmanuhiri).
“But at Turanga Health they take you to try out all sorts of fitness options to help you stay healthy and feel better about yourself, and now I love the Les Mills classes I get to do at the YMCA gym.”
When she is at her desk, though, she plays a key role in logging everything from whānau referrals and registrations to actions carried out by staff and outcomes. Her work creates the data set that is then analysed to help Turanga Health plot its future goals.
And it's a perfect fit for Franzee who, while juggling the demands of early motherhood, chose business and technology as the focus of her studies.
That led to the role she started in 2019 with Turanga Health, which she says has helped her in more areas than career and fitness.
“They have really helped me develop as a person,” she says. “When I first started I was super shy but the staff have been a huge help in supporting and encouraging me to step up every single day.”
AS mum to a young child, Cassandra Sheridan worked in retail until deciding she wanted a more fulfilling career and made the shift to nursing.
Getting there took some time – while working towards her nursing degree in Gisborne she studied, took a year off to have her second child, studied some more, then took another 12 months off to have her third before she got to her graduating year.
“It did take a while but it was worth it,” says Cassandra. “Before I started training I'd never even been in a hospital except to have my children, but I felt I was a caring person and nursing was somewhere I could make a difference.”
And she has had to learn fast. Before working in a GP centre then joining Turanga Health as a Tamariki Ora nurse in March 2021, Cassandra got a crash course in nursing at Gisborne Hospital.
“I'd actually started as an orthopaedic nurse but the Covid-19 pandemic meant we were all moved around a lot so I quickly shifted to surgical then medical,” she says.
“It was a crazy period but fantastic for me in that I got to learn a lot of new skills over a very short period of time.”
Her new role is also busy, but she says visiting mamas and pēpi in their homes, talking about how they are going and working through their Well Child Tamariki Ora checks is a great fit for her.
“As a māmā myself, working with other mothers really excites me and it doesn't hurt that I'm also a really good talker!”
And her work base at Turanga Health, too, feels just right.
“I especially love how we are all working together so communication across the team flows really smoothly.
“That's really great for everyone as I feel it helps us provide the best care to our clients.”
GROWING up in Iloilo City, in the Philippines, Prue Langdon watched her sister train as a nurse then travel with her skills and decided that was the life for her
Now a community nurse with Turanga Health, Prue first worked in a medical-surgical ward before moving to New Zealand in 2011.
There was, as expected, a delay while she processed her overseas registration so she was delighted to be confirmed a New Zealand Registered Nurse just two years later.
After that, much of her employment was in aged care with her last posting in that environment being the demanding role of co-ordinating an entire unit that included both rest home and dementia care.
In the interim, the keen traveller had been passing through Christchurch Airport when she met her now husband. The couple now have two young children and Prue says they are their absolute joy.
“In nursing, your main aim is to help people but I also needed to be available to my own children so working with Turanga Health gives me the best of both worlds.”
Prue has a client base of around 100 whānau who she sees with varying regularity -- depending on their needs – and supports in their sometimes complicated navigation of the health system.
“Turanga Health has a big focus on whānau and the flexibility of being a community nurse enables me to spend time with my own family while still doing work that I love,” Prue says.
“It's a great environment to work in and gives me the opportunity to make a real difference in people's lives.”
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