Tiumalu says language is just one of the barriers to Pasifika people seeking hospice services. “In the Pacific Islands we don’t have hospices. We just have the hospital and then your family. It’s the family who look after you.”
She says families feel that it is their responsibility to provide the care, but increasingly people are working and can’t be at home with someone who is very ill. The Enhanced Hospice @ Home service, started last year by Mary Potter Hospice has been great for these families, with a nurse available after hours and at weekends. The Hospice is piloting its first grief and loss workshop for Pasifika children from the Porirua community later this year.
More Pasifika people are seeking services at Mary Potter Hospice since it introduced the Pasifika Liaison role two years ago to strengthen links with the Pasifika community.
In fact, the move to reach more Pasifika people started much earlier, in 1997, when Mary Potter Hospice set up a care coordination team in Porirua. In 2006, only 3 percent of patients were of Māori or Pasifika background; last year Tiumalu connected with the Hospice’s 56 Pasifika patients, or around six percent of the total of 900 patients.
Tiumalu works closely with the Hospice’s multidisciplinary teams, and an important part of her role is to educate Hospice staff and volunteers, to raise awareness about Pasifika people’s needs and expectations for their care and their family. She also works with other health and social service providers, Pasifika networks and churches to share information about the palliative care services the Hospice provides.
Tiumalu also chairs the Pasifika Advisory Group of three hospice staff and three community representatives, who oversee the liaison service and connect the Hospice to external advisors working in Pasifika health.