The opportunity for Faananafu Kepaoa to become a Support Worker at Pacific Homecare has been a huge blessing in the young woman’s life.
It has inspired her to delve further into nursing and care fields in the future.
For now, however, she is enjoying her time at Pacific Homecare, absorbing everything she can learn while supporting six regular clients.
The 23-year-old Samoan, who began working at Pacific Homecare in late 2013, says the organisation is supportive and regularly upskill their staff.
“They provide a lot of training. I’ve been studying my Level Two certificate in Disability Care (NCA) and I’ve also done a few workshops,” Faananafu says.
Encouragement to be the best at her job also comes from other Support Workers, which has a stimulating and inclusive workplace environment.
“There are sometimes challenges with a client, but all I have to do is ask for help, and someone from Pacific Homecare will assist me.”
Prior to moving to New Zealand, Faananafu cared for her uncle who had a spinal cord injury, at a home for those with spinal cord injuries in Samoa.
She went to Fiji to undertake a six-month course on how to support the elderly and people with disabilities. There she learnt various methods of assisting these people – who all have individual needs and requirements.
“The course was really helpful when it came to getting this job. It covered the sort of work I do now as a Support Worker.”
Faananafu says her prime motivation is to serve others.
“Helping the elderly and people in need is rewarding to me.”
Her role is not always easy – there are difficult times, where Faananafu is faced with challenging behaviour and situations she needs to try and control.
“Sometimes people with dementia can get worked up, so you need to calm people down, talk to them nicely, face to face, distract them and so on,” she says.
“At times it gets to the stage you need to protect yourself,” she quips.
Faananafu has a deep appreciation for the elderly. She enjoys their company, chatting with them and hearing about their lives and stories from their younger years.
“They tell me that I’m still young and encourage me in what I’m doing.”
Her clients are of different nationalities and she also enjoys learning about their cultures. Some are not able to speak English or Samoan, but Faananafu says she always finds a way to communicate and do the things that need doing.
“Communication is a big part of the job – but if you have a loving heart, you find a way to do this job.”