Work to break down barriers to Māori health, recognised
Article by Esther Ashby-Coventry
Anah Aikman (Ngāti Maniapoto, Ngāti Wairere) won the Returning the Learning Award at the South Canterbury Health Care Awards at Caroline Bay Hall on August 7 for her work with South Canterbury District Health Board.
Greeting and welcoming a patient on arrival is a simple way to help reduce fear and build a relationship with Māori attending health appointments, the award-winning developer of a programme to improve access to healthcare says.
Registered nurse of 46 years, and South Canterbury District Health Board (SCDHB) Learning Hub nurse coach, Anah Aikman (Ngāti Maniapoto, Ngāti Wairere) has been working on a four-part series to promote the health and wellbeing of whānau with co-presenter Hauora Māori Team member Christine Akurangi.
They have led a number of groups through their programme to date.
In recognition of the difference Aikman is making, by sharing her knowledge in the health system, she was awarded the Returning the Learning Award at the South Canterbury Health Care Awards at Caroline Bay Hall earlier this month.
Aikman said barriers to Māori accessing health services could be related to lack of finances, transport, fear from previous experiences or whakamā (shame).
She said fear was a big barrier for Māori and Pasifika, particularly in the mental health arena.
“There are challenges around how Māori look at health. And we need to be aware of our own assumptions and biases. Self awareness is a reflection of who we are, and it can make a great difference.”
Anah Aikman says simple things can make a big difference in making Māori and Pasifika feel welcome in a health setting.
She said she has been encouraging other medical professionals to think from a Māori point of view and to consider the best way to engage.
Aikman has been on a path to ensure people are greeted, welcomed and helped to navigate the health system, advocated for and discharged with dignity.
“Whakawhanaungatanga (making connections) relationships are so important. I believe simple things can make change. The art of listening and being present takes great skill.”
Anah Aikman is teaching staff about Māori culture at the South Canterbury District Health Board.
She spent six months in New York in 2013 studying to be an integrative nurse coach, as she could not see such a thing available in New Zealand.
It was about being the interface between the health care system and the people.
Now she is studying a Masters through Canterbury University on Māori and Indigenous Leadership while helping develop more New Zealand Programmes with New York.
“We can make a difference.”