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Call for volunteers for the Kowhai programme

Wednesday, October 20, 2021   Posted in: Vacancies By: Administrator With tags: volunteers, health, services, support

The Kōwhai programme is a new initiative offering patient centred support by volunteers. The programme is being rolled out in the Older Persons’ Health inpatient wards at Burwood Hospital.

It  is based on a model developed by the New South Wales Agency for Clinical Innovation which has been successfully running in Australia for several years, and will recruit and train volunteers who will be known as Kōwhai Companions, says Programme Co-ordinator and Nurse Educator Fiona Graham.

“Centred on the Te Whare Tapa Whā model of health and wellbeing, the Kōwhai Companions will provide patientcentred support though meaningful engagement and practical assistance to maintain and improve physical and emotional wellbeing for vulnerable patients potentially at risk of developing delirium.”

The model describes health and wellbeing as a wharenui/ meeting house with four walls. These walls represent taha wairua/ spiritual wellbeing, taha hinengaro/ mental and emotional wellbeing, taha tinana/ physical wellbeing and taha whānau/ family and social wellbeing.

Delirium is a confused mental state that causes disorientation. It starts suddenly and can come and go. Its causes include fever, severe or chronic illness, and infections.

It is anticipated that the Kōwhai programme will contribute to a reduction in delirium rates and patient harm from incidents such as falls, pressure injuries, dehydration and malnutrition - along with other innovative initiatives currently in place, she says.

The Kōwhai conversation posters will be on the wall of patients’ rooms, and have words on written on each of the flower blooms.

“These are headings under which information about the patient can be written and used as prompts for conversations with them, using a patient-centred approach, for instance, their interests and hobbies, places they’ve lived, their pets or past occupation.”

Kōwhai Programme ‘expos’ will be held if you are interested in being a Kōwhai Companion or know anyone who would.

  • Friday 22nd October 2021 (from 10.30am to 1.30pm) in the Manawa Atrium; and
  • Thursday 28th October 2021 (from 10am to 3pm) in the Burwood Atrium.

“Please spread the word through Burwood and beyond, as this will be great opportunity for potential Kōwhai Companions to find out more. As well as the known benefits for our patients, Kōwhai Companions will gain a great deal of satisfaction from knowing they are making a difference.

“Additionally, this is a unique opportunity for people to gain work experience in health care which may benefit your career pathway. We are recruiting now,” Fiona says.

Contact Fiona Graham if you would like to know more about the Kōwhai Programme (Fiona.Graham[at] or 021 374987).