People who are unwell need a range of things. They often just need someone to listen to them and support their decisions.
Barbara Metzger, the new Māori Cancer Kāiarahi Service Co-ordinator for Ngā Kete, understands this sentiment all too well.
“I have had a number of health challenges throughout my adult life, so I understand how important this role is. Like most Southlanders I pride myself on my independence, but there have been times when I have needed people and their support to advocate on my behalf.”
Although Barbara just recently started in her position, she has worked at Ngā Kete in the context of smoking cessation for almost 10 years. Therefore, she has several close working relationships with local health professionals, and a range of transferrable skills.
She has been able to assist several clients in the Cancer Kāiarahi role already, she says.
“When one is unwell it can be hard to think clearly, and in these situations you can be flooded with a whole lot of complex information and be required to make some really big decisions. A key part of my role is to help people navigate those processes and have as much control over them as they want to.”
For example, Barbara has helped clients, and their whānau to ask the key questions to help them understand medication requirements, make informed choices about treatment options and, if necessary, assist with transportation to and from hospital appointments.
Recently one of her clients required dental work ahead of cancer treatment and Barbara helped to arrange this because the severity of the clients illness had initially prevented it.
She also recently supported a client to complete the paperwork required by Work and Income to transition from fulltime paid employment to being on a sickness benefit – a daunting process made easier with Barbara’s assistance.
In ensuring clients access the services they require to meet their needs, Barbara keeps in touch with regular phone calls and home visits.
“Sometimes the best thing I can do is just be an ear … being a good listener is crucial to achieving the best possible outcome, because what exactly that looks like varies from one client and whānau to the next.”
While her new role is emotionally challenging, Barbara is looking forward to assisting Māori diagnosed with cancer, and their whānau, throughout and beyond 2017.
*You can be referred at any stage of your journey. Whānau can be referred by:
- Cancer Society
- The hospital
- District nurses
- Any health providers and other professionals.
Ngā Kete Matauranga Pounamu Charitable Trust
92 Spey Street, Invercargill
Ph: (03) 214 5260
Free Phone: 0800 925 242
Email Barbara: Barbara.firstname.lastname@example.org
Cell: 027 276 2414