And as part of this very special partnership, BNI New Zealand is proud to support the BNI Palliative Care Scholarship Programme, assisting hospice staff to undertake postgraduate study in their specialty fields and grow as leaders in palliative care. Over the years, BNI New Zealand has donated more than $149,000 to fully fund the programme.
Hospice Social Worker, Mary James, is one of 12 scholarship recipients to benefit from the programme this year. With the support of BNI New Zealand and Nelson Tasman Hospice, Mary is working towards her Masters in Health Science. “My thesis explores the strengths that underpin and sustain people caring for a loved one who is dying”, says Mary. “Often there’s a tendency to focus on the toll that caregiving takes on families – how difficult it is. There’s no doubt it can be challenging, yet what I also see in my practice are some extraordinary positives, which help explain why families often choose to disregard the challenges and care for their family member anyway. Focusing on the strengths that underpin caregivers helps Hospice best develop a kete to support them.”
In Whakatane, BNI’s support is helping Hospice Social Worker and Counsellor, Di Watkins, explore ways to support people with ‘complicated grief’. “At some time in our lives, we all suffer loss – but we don’t all experience or process grief in the same way,” says Di. “Sometimes grief can get ‘stuck’ over time – something gets in the way of our capacity to heal and it can be devastating and paralyzing. Through my post-grad studies at the University of Auckland, we’re exploring ways to better help people who are navigating this challenging time of their lives. It’s about walking alongside the person to help them redevelop a sense of control while also giving them the time and space they need to heal.”
Both Mary and Di share their learnings with their Hospice colleagues on an ongoing basis, helping to ensure New Zealand hospices stay at the forefront of palliative care. Hospice NZ Chief Executive, Mary Schumacher says, “Hospice care is unique in that we care for the ‘whole person’ – which means physical, spiritual, emotional and social needs are equally important. With BNI’s support for our Allied Health professionals through the scholarship programme, together we are ensuring there is a highly skilled workforce committed to caring for people in the best possible way as they approach the end of life. We are sincerely grateful to BNI for their commitment to the philosophy of ‘Givers Gain’ and the work of Hospice.”