New cultural awareness training with frontline staff has been introduced at Juniper Guwardi Ngadu in Fitzroy Crossing which has allowed staff to connect
more deeply and quickly with residents.

“Since we introduced simple cultural awareness training many of our residents have reported back positive engagement with new staff. From the resident’s point of view, they were able to form a bond more quickly,” Juniper Guwardi Ngadu Residential Manager Belinda Storer said.

“Part of feeling welcome is giving new staff the cultural knowledge during orientation, which we modelled on the wonderful work specific to the Fitzroy Valley done by Nindilingarri Cultural Health Services.”

Located in the heart of the Kimberley, Fitzroy Crossing is located 400km east of Broome within the larger Fitzroy Valley, home to 45 Aboriginal communities.

The rich culture of the area is made up of five main Aboriginal language groups – Bunuba, Walmatjarri, Gooniyandi, Nyikina and Wangkatjungka – each with their own distinct language and customs.

With about 80 percent of the population Aboriginal in the Fitzroy Valley, all our residents at Juniper Guwardi Ngadu Residential Aged Care Home are Aboriginal, making respect and understanding of culture paramount for Juniper staff.

With regional staffing shortages impacting the Kimberly, Juniper supports Guwardi Ngadu residents by supplementing local teams with staff working on a rotational fly-in, fly-out basis.

Staff fly from Perth to Broome before commuting another 400km to Fitzroy Crossing. Orientation packs are given to new staff members for the drive and before they start their first supported shift with a colleague.

“Our orientation is not only ensuring staff provide culturally safe and responsive care, comply with clinical care and governance and align with Juniper’s values and work standards, it also plays an important part in making people feel welcome and part of the team,” Belinda said.

“Since doing this we have had such positive feedback from new staff that have never had the opportunity to work in Aboriginal communities.”

Building on the success of welcome packs, Belinda plans to add tourist information of local sites to support staff to enjoy the stunning Kimberley, as well as some welcome gifts.

“Staff often come such a long way and they don’t have their family here. In line with the Juniper values of respect and welcome, our orientation packs are a way for us to say welcome and make them feel at home,” she said.

Connection to country

Recognising the deep connection to country and the importance of family, during COVID-19 visitor requirements the Juniper Guwardi Ngadu team introduced several new initiatives to ensure residents could maintain those connections.

A dedicated Facebook account served as the conduit for families to send through photos, video and Facetime each other to maintain connection with family and country.

Outdoor family movie nights were held on the lawn during restrictions, giving our families the opportunity to see their loved ones safely outside of the home.

“These sorts of initiatives help support resident connection to family and recognise the importance of family to our resident’s own identity,” Juniper Guwardi Ngadu Residential Manager Belinda Storer said.

Going floral

Guwardi Ngadu resident Margaret Green, pictured above, favourite flower is the vinka.

They abound on her patch of garden which she waters and tends to each day.

“Margaret directed me on exactly which flowers she wanted planted and where. We made sure her spot was alongside an accessible path and now she waters her patch every day,” Juniper Guwardi
Ngadu Residential Manager Belinda Storer said.

“We’ve done a lot of work this year in our gardens which has been completely driven by the residents. Each of our residents now have their own special area to delight in and connect to.”

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