To be exact, Te Kainga are going 164 extra miles to deliver quality care to the elderly and mentally ill on Aitutaki with a new initiative.
With sponsorship from Air Rarotonga, Te Kainga flew two volunteer care workers, Eikura Turia and Isamaela Nooapii from Aitutaki, to Rarotonga for the two-week workshop.
The eager learners observed the activities and practices used by Te Kainga workers and on the final day of the programme, they were tasked with overseeing the day’s activities.
Turia says the workshop was really helpful, and will be very beneficial for their island’s elderly and mentally ill who need more support. Turia cares for her own elderly father and mentally ill family member, so she says she understands the stress of being a caregiver.
Te Kainga director Mereana Taikoko says training volunteers for the outer islands is important, because they seem to carry more stress than locals on Rarotonga.
“What we found is that they their burdens and responsibilities haven’t changed. They are still carrying the same weight now, that they were years ago.”
With many leaving the island, Taikoko says day-to-day life can become very stressful for those left behind.
The outer islands receive no funding for providing services for their elderly, so Taikoko organises revenue-generating activities, assessments, awareness programmes and day care centres.
The training programme was funded by Te Kainga with the help of the community through donations, and supported by the Ministry of Health.
Taikoko thanks Air Rarotonga for their help in sponsoring return airfares for the women and making it possible for them to attend the workshop.
The two volunteers have since returned to Aitutaki to roll out their programme using the tools and knowledge gained from the workshop.
They have run two programmes, where they take the elderly away for three days and give them meals and activities to keep their minds sharp, and to give their caregivers a break.
“It’s all about increasing their quality of life so they can punch in a bit better, and help themselves at home or contribute to the community more,” says Taikoko. Taikoko says the programme has been so successful that the community are asking for more to be run, and run more often. However, she says people need to keep in mind that they are only volunteers and they also have their own families to care for. For this reason, Taikoko says she will continue to visit Aitutaki to give more support and to assess how the programmes are running.
Taikoko visited Aitutaki over the weekend to follow up on the training, and also to meet with the mental health services committee to strengthen their services.
“The committee will be a year old in November, and it still has its flaws.
“But with a bit of tidying up, we can improve our service.”