Competencies, Maori

Health Promotion and Organisational Transformation- a formal training approach

HPF’s Executive Director Trevor Simpson discusses the importance of organisation-wide training

The success of an organisation often rests on the skills, knowledge and competency of the staff that it employs. When contemplating the importance of this we see that the human resource element and the ability of an organisation to achieve its goals are intimately entwined. The people we have in our workforce are critical to success and without the right employees in place, we sometimes see less than desirable results. The capability, capacity and retention of our workforce in any organisation should be of paramount concern if we are to meet our long-term goals.

In public health and other parts of the health sector, recruiting to an organisation often means we are faced with limited choices in terms of bringing in competent people. On the face of it, it depicts a fluid, dynamic and often transient workforce that by nature reduces our choices. Additionally, we are sometimes looking for specialist personnel, perhaps suitably qualified Maori, Pasifika or Asian. In health promotion this is particularly evident where inducted staff are selected to cover a role, and then are trained further to build competency.

One way forward that has seen measurable and positive results is the platform of organisation-wide training in formal education. This approach provides for an organisation to develop its staff through formal learning in the communities (and sometimes buildings) in which they are working. The advantages of doing training in this way are numerous and wide reaching.

First but probably not the most important (except to your accountant!) are the cost benefits. The training and the trainers come to you in your community. Staff are not required to travel to another location, meaning savings on commuting, accommodation and per diem allowances. For some this means that issues around childcare and making arrangements for whanau while they are away are also negated. They simply go home at the end of the day. Additionally, with the practice of paying a set fee, the organisation gets to make savings through having larger numbers of their staff trained at the same time. The more staff on the course the higher the saving.

Cost benefits aside, the outcomes for the organisation and the communities which it serves shouldn’t be underestimated. In health promotion we know that sometimes health promoters are isolated in their role, have limited capacity to deliver the desired outcomes because of this and are often required to explain the comprehensive approach of health promotion to other staff. Organisational training not only diminishes this problem but strengthens the organisation and makes it much more effective. If everyone in the team understands health promotion, regardless of their own specific roles, they become supportive of their colleagues and the notion of health promotion itself. It is therefore a strengths approach to building a strong organisation and by virtue of this, and over time, a strong community.

Another way to do this kind of community development is to do cross-organisational community training. This is where two or more organisations pool their funds to have training delivered in their general location. A mix of staff from each organisation attends the training. This approach can have an enduring impact on communities. A critical mass of health promoters can influence beyond the health care system to make inroads into the wider determinants of health at a local level. Perhaps think along the lines of Local authorities, schools, early childcare centres, workplaces, marae, housing and all kinds of community groups – health promoters can work in and across any of these areas. In short, the potential for improving and maintaining the health of communities is endless.

The HPF level 4 Certificate of Achievement in Introducing Health Promotion is one such course that delivers in this way. This course is delivered in collaboration with the Manukau Institute of Technology as the accredited institution, meaning that the students who complete the course will gain a recognised qualification together with 10 credit points. Although a formal framework the course can be delivered off campus in the regions or in city and urban settings. Importantly it introduces health training to returning or new students – an entry level course which can lead onto higher education and professional development in the health field.

 If anyone is interested in this type of training please feel free to contact emma@hauora.co.nz