1 July 2012

News briefs including: Nurse researchers seek more dementia carers/ Online cultural competency training/ Dementia Co-operative in action/ Nurse heads new Health Promotion Agency/Correction / Auckland DHB nurse shortages

Nurse researchers seek more dementia carers

Carers of older people with dementia are being sought for a nurse-led research project into the support for carers in the community.

The University of Auckland school of nursing study hopes to recruit up to 200 primary carers across the country. Lead researcher Matthew Parsons said the study had currently enrolled 106 people and more were needed to provide clear answers for the researchers. He said the research aimed to identify the factors most likely to cause depression, stress, and anxiety amongst carers, as well as developing ways to keep them supported.

“The numbers of people with dementia is expected to at least double over the next 20 years. Identifying ways to look after carers so that they, in turn, can care for their family members is a pressing question.”

Volunteers in the study would participate in a one-hour interview about their experiences, with current support for caring followed by a second one-hour interview the following year about how that support has changed.

People interested in finding out more about this study should contact Nabeel Abdrabalanabi on 021 322 237.

Online cultural competency training

A free cultural competency course, designed for health professionals, has been launched online recently by Associate Health Minister Tariana Turia.

Turia said while both the regulated and unregulated workforces had worked on building cultural competence to date, there had been no national consistency in what this meant.

“Our families and whānau are diverse, and it is critical that our health workforce has the necessary skills and knowledge to provide real support in culturally safe and appropriate ways.”

The voluntary Foundation Course in Cultural Competency programme is free for the next 12 months. The three modules cover New Zealand’s culturally diverse population, including an emphasis on Māori culture, and also focuses on health literacy. The programme is provided by the Māori-led health, education, and research consultancy and training provider Mauriora. For more information, visit

Dementia Co-operative in action

The National Dementia Co-operative (NDC) is gaining momentum since forming last year and is holding its second regional day in Wellington in August.

The NDC was formed to advance dementia care and now has a steering committee and national coordinator. Its first regional day in Rotorua earlier this year attracted 60 people and led to 120 expressions of interest for action groups to tackle specific issues. It now has six action groups working on issues ranging from advocacy to workforce development. The action groups are to report back at the Wellington regional day on August 29, which will also hear about dementia innovations from around the country. Interested people can join the co-operative for free by emailing the coordinator

Nurse heads new Health Promotion Agency

The country’s new Health Promotion Agency board is headed by former nurse and health manager Lee Mathias. The agency came into effect on July 1 and brings together the functions of ALAC (Alcohol Advisory Council), the Health Sponsorship Council, and some health promotion work of the Ministry of Health into one agency in a move the government says could save $7.5 million in costs over four years. The six other board members include primary health care nursing advocate Barbara Docherty, the chief executive of the New Zealand Food & Grocery Council Katherine Rich, and sportswoman Dame Susan Devoy.


In Nursing Review’s last edition, a table on the College of Nurses opinion page was incorrectly headed NZNO Competence & Conduct Notifications. It should have read Nursing Council Competence & Conduct Notifications. We apologise for the error.

Auckland DHB nurse shortages

Budget pressure to save $4 million by June 30 is thought to be behind a union survey finding Auckland District Health Board short of 120 nurses.

The New Zealand Nurses Organisation released its members survey in early June, with organiser Craig Muir saying the shortages, including members reporting Startship being 48 nurses down, were ‘shocking’.

At the time, executive director of nursing Margaret Dotchin acknowledged the board was managing costs closely to come in on budget but not at the cost of patient care or safety.

She said in March and April it had 5.8 more nurses in Starship than the same time the previous year, and between March and May 30, it had approved recruitment of 128 nurses across the whole district health board.

“This will ease pressures,” she said.

Muir said members had been telling NZNO how overworked they were at Auckland DHB, but NZNO had no idea how bad it was until the member survey.

“It’s dangerous for overworked, stressed staff and the flow-on effect of that is concern for patient care.”

Auckland DHB is the largest nurse employer in the country, with the last national DHB snapshot survey in December 2011 showing it employed 2958 nurses (just over 2500 equivalent fulltime nursing positions). On July 1, it was advertising 29 nursing positions on the Auckland Health Jobs website.