It's an honour gaining trust from my patients and their families

Jennifer Futialo is a District nurse with the community home healthcare team. Every day she uses the cultural values taught from her Cook Islands upbringing to help her patients. 

"the majority of our patients in the community are Pasifika, if not Cook Islanders. Being Pasifika myself, there's an instant connection with each other. Cultural boundaries are understood, and it's easier to build trust."

Jennifer says it's easy to underestimate how many people you can help and influence just by being a Pasifika Healthcare provider within a Pasifika Community.

She was born and raised in Auckland. Her father was born here in New Zealand to English parents, and her mother was born in Vaipae, Aitutaki.

"I'm half Kuki Airani and half Papa'a (NZ European). I come from the Pitomaki Family."

Encouraged to study nursing after a close friend in Medical School noticed her empathy, care and inclusive characteristics, her friend said she knew she would fit well in a profession in healthcare. 

"I believe those characteristics stem from my cultural upbringing and values, which is a part of my everyday life as a Cook Islander."

Jennifer finds the most rewarding part of being a nurse is seeing someone at their most vulnerable and being there with them through it all.

"It's an honour gaining trust from my patients and their families and seeing improvements in their health at the end of our care."

She highlights the importance of the community home healthcare team for aiding safe discharges from the hospital and reducing the chances of readmission.

"By providing care within homes, we help free up spaces in GP clinics and hospitals. Since we have longer relationships with patients, we can identify, address and link patients with appropriate services for thorough wrap-around care."

Jennifer says the driving force in her career is her family.

"I wear my family name on my chest each day and am reminded that when I'm out in the community, people will see that name and feel the Mana that comes with it.

"For our Cook Islands people, Papa'anga (genealogy) is important, and there's no doubt that Cook Island people will know someone from my family.

"So, my name and actions carry the honour of my metua (parents) and tupuna (ancestors). It demonstrates the values they instilled into us."

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