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Latest news - 8 July 2020|A passion for supporting Kaumaatua, Kuia and those caring for whaanau with Dementia keeps  social worker Jonine ‘Bobby’ Nepia’s feet firmly on the ground in her new  role in Adult Rehabilitation and Health of Older People (ARHOP).

Bobby, who started her new job in the midst of the COVID-19 lockdown in March, takes inspiration for her mahi (work) from her grandmother, who brought her up and was diagnosed with Dementia.

“I was a whaangai to my grandmother, who passed away eight years ago.  I cared for her for seven years before her passing so I have experienced the highs and lows of being a fulltime caregiver for someone with Dementia,” says Bobby.

“Being Maaori, I was taught that we look after our own at home. We do not put them into care and to this day I wouldn’t have had it any other way. Unfortunately, when I was caring for her, I felt there was not enough education about Dementia.  I was invited to support groups but I was unable to take Mum with me so I couldn’t attend.

“I asked our keyworker if she knew of other Maaori whaanau going through the same thing and unfortunately she did not know of anyone.

“This inspired me to want to do something like start a support group for Maaori caring for their whaanau, and to be able to do this, I needed to go back to school.”

So Bobby went back to study and completed a Bachelor of Social Practice at Unitec, doing her last placement at Dementia Auckland, who promptly hired her when she finished her studies.

Now, she has come full circle at CM Health.

“In my previous role with Dementia Auckland I attended weekly meetings with The Memory Team here at CM Health as they would refer whaanau to our services.  I always admired the awesome mahi they did in the community,” adds Bobby.

I am currently working with a few Maaori whaanau and am happy and privileged to say that the patients’ whaanau are glad to be seen by a Maaori professional.

“I carry my mum on my shoulders throughout my mahi. I speak of her often when whaanau in the community think ‘this is just my job’ and ‘how would I know what they’re going through”

“Some of our Kaumaatua, Kuia have some memory issues, but some will recognise my surname and we chat about this. We also talk about tribes and iwi, which opens the door to a great rapport with them and their whaanau.

“It is a privilege.”

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