Iona is a great place for international staff

Iona Enliven Care Home in Oamaru was thrilled to be announced as a category winner during at the 2018 NZACA / EBOS Healthcare Excellence in Care Awards at the NZ Aged Care Association Conference this week.

The Connecting Cultures programme, which has been developed and piloted in partnership with Immigration New Zealand at Iona for the last eighteen months, was entered in the Arjo Training and Staff Development Award Category. Iona was one of three category finalists, before being announced as the category winner.

The pilot programme primarily focused on reducing the number of international staff  leaving employment at Iona.  Initial results show the programme has reduced this by 75% over two years.

Iona Care Home is a busy place, with over 100 staff, 80 volunteers and 78 residents who live in the facility.

Recognising high staff turnover, the diversity of cultures among staff members and the challenges this brought, Iona Manager Steph Leith knew something needed to be done differently.

The pilot programme was undertaken in partnership with Immigration New Zealand, and involved developing and facilitating inclusion workshops for all staff, and establishing a ‘Connecting Cultures’ Group.  Various staff and external organisations are involved, and a passionate resident is also part of the group.

The aim is to grow respect for different cultures, increase awareness of other cultures (for New Zealanders and international staff), and create a happy, safe environment for residents, staff, and volunteers. 

Different cultures are now being celebrated and showcased every two months at Iona – Indian, Filipino and Kiwi cultures have been the focus in recent months. This is done through notice boards explaining aspects of the chosen culture, a food sharing activity / exhibition, and activities with involvement from residents.

Iona Resident Joan stated, “Connecting Cultures gives us more of an insight into the staff cultures…It’s a good exercise to learn how other people live and get on.”

Feedback, and the results, have been very positive. Iona staff feel there is more connection between cultures, and more understanding of how to avoid unintentionally offending someone of a different culture.

Iona Manager Steph Leith is positive about the impact of the programme and the difference it makes for the Iona staff team and residents, “We must embrace our migrant workforce, and make them feel comfortable because they are a wonderful part of our team and they are increasing in number every year. Without them we wouldn’t be able to continue at Iona.”

Congratulations to everyone at Iona for helping to spread knowledge, understanding, awareness and respect for all cultures through the Connecting Cultures programme.


Award winners