Kia ora koutou,
I’m gen, I’ve just returned to my hometown, Christchurch, after 20 years in all sorts of different places doing
all sorts of different things, from owning and operating a bar on a ski resort in France, to working as a paramedic for St John Ambulance in Auckland. I have always been passionate about sustainability, the environment and social justice issues and have recently realised that working in this arena is the only real choice for me.
The project I am working on has to do with my experiences of working in the health system, and how we might better use our health dollar to enhance individual and community health rather than focusing on the far more expensive cure. Initially I would like to connect my organisation, St John, with a concept known as Timebanking (a services exchange tool in which one member’s time given in work or services done, can be exchanged with any other member for equal time and services. This tool can be used to effect all sorts of beneficial outcomes and has the added bonus of building community cohesion and social capital). With our knowledge of how community breakdown affects both mental and physical health, rebuilding community is a first step towards overall better health and savings in health resources.
This idea would benefit St John in two main ways, first, as two thirds of ambulance crew in NZ are volunteers, those who chose to join a timebank could gain much greater rewards for the time they put into St John and their communities, with the likely outcome being an increased retention rate of volunteers, saving the organisation large sums in training, uniforms and recruitment.
Secondly, and perhaps more importantly, as one of the few agencies who touch the lives of such a wide range of people in our communities and across the whole country, St John is uniquely placed to endorse this simple and clever tool. I believe that St John’s high profile and trusted name behind the concept will encourage people to seriously consider how Timebanking can promote better health and stronger community. And as we progress in rebuilding our communities, the non-emergency calls St John Ambulance attend which are related to social isolation should reduce in number, thereby lessening the stress on our resources.
Timebanking has enormous potential to improve health outcomes, which have already been demonstrated in the UK and US where Timebanking is used to care for the elderly and keep them in their own homes; reduce chronic illness sufferers emergency admittances to hospital by providing the skills and support to manage their health needs better at home; improve confidence and mental health by providing people with purpose and social interaction; and reduce rehabilitation time after accident or injury. My goal is to bring those benefits to the New Zealand health sector and help us transition from the expensive and inefficient individual cure-focused health system paradigm, to promoting individual, community and societal wellness.
Check out my prezi at http://prezi.com/5zxqj2r9h9us/st-john-ambulance-nz-timebanking/