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Meet Plunket Nurse Shona - Making a Difference Series

Plunket nurses see 9 out of 10 of all New Zealand kids – visiting families in their homes, working with parents in clinics and helping out in local communities. From their very first visit they become a part of a family’s life. They provide support, they provide reassurance and they make the difference of a life time for NZ kids.

Our Plunket nurses are ordinary women who do extraordinary things every day for families across New Zealand. In this series of nurse profiles you will meet a handful of the amazing nurses who dedicate their time to ensuring our kiwi kids and families are supported.

Mount Wellington based Plunket Nurse Shona has been working for Plunket for 5 years now. We asked her why she joined Plunket, what she likes about her job and about the difference Plunket makes in that crucial first 1000 days.

What inspired you to become a Plunket nurse?

I wanted to help out in my community where I knew I could do more. So I asked myself how I can be most effective in the community and do the best work and the answer was Plunket. Being a nurse and coming into Plunket opened up another side of nursing for me – I definitely find that working in the community is more rewarding.

Also I come from a big family with lots of kids. For me it seemed like a natural move to work for Plunket, in terms of child health and helping families.

What does a day in your life look like?

My day is filed with a lot of communication and talking with mums, which I absolutely love. I do lots of driving, and often I have stop to find a tree for shade so I can write up my notes – while I am working I am always on the go. Most of my day includes supporting mums and babies, seeing if they are doing well and doing assessments. It is interesting because throughout one day I can see a lot of different families that all have different needs, all in the same area.

My days are pretty frantic and full on – both sides of lunch are fully booked. In the area that I work in there are a lot of new babies. I also find it important to catch up with the team at the end of the day as you are on the road a lot by yourself. Generally I try to leave by 4.30 so I can have family time myself, however this does not always happen.

What do you like about working for Plunket?

People. I feel like definitely the people is what makes Plunket thrive.

Plunket is an organisation that supports families, and this shows through the way that we are all very family orientated in our own lives. The people make you want to come to work. I have a great team and this can make all the difference.

I also love working with parents and families. I like how we are all really integrated  in our community and everyone knows about Plunket. The feedback that we get from parents is that they are really engaging with their baby’s health and how baby is growing and developing.

So it is people in the areas (clients and families) and the people that I work with that make the job great.

What do you find challenging about working for Plunket?

Sometimes a family is going through a situation and your heart melts and this is quite challenging in terms of your personal feelings. It does get to you, seeing a family go through hardship or seeing children who aren’t thriving. Even when you do your job well and right – you still go home with it. I guess putting your own personal feelings aside and working with how it is for this family can be hard. I always hope they are doing okay.

What is the best part about working in your community?

I love it when I walk in the mall, where the clinic is based, and mums and families come up to me in the weekend when I am doing my groceries. I have always found it neat how comfortable they are to say hi and show off their baby. I feel quite touched as there are a lot of people that these mums see in their lives and they still remember me and come up to me.

Also you don’t really think about how you have the privilege of going into families’ homes and sharing their space. Sometimes you take this for granted and you forget that it is a huge thing for them to trust us to come into their homes. It is really nice being able to do this and connect with these families in their community.

How do you think Plunket makes a difference in the first 1000 days of a child’s life?

I think an early connection from the beginning and that first contact after referral from a midwife is so important for the difference that we make. I truly think that the first phone call with a family is extremely important as we can build rapport and a great connection, allowing us to best support the family. This means that we can give mum and dad  all of the information they need early on, and let them know about the work that Plunket does in the community as well.

What do you do when you are not being a Plunket nurse?

For me my spare time is mainly about spending time with family. I recently got married and my husband does a lot of shift work, so anytime I can spend with him is a bonus. As I come from a big family, lots of nieces and nephews, I also find myself doing lots of babysitting.

I also enjoy sports - I play indoor netball on Mondays. It is a great outlet for stress, and it is good for me to exert some energy.

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