Celebrating 40 years of NZTC: A Q&A with inaugural Health and Wellbeing graduate

Chief Executive Selena Fox (left)
Kandhi Moonsamy (right)

As our 40th anniversary celebrations continue, we look back on some important initiatives that have helped shape the college into what it is today. One such milestone was the launching of Health and Wellbeing qualifications in 2017 to support the sector’s growing need for a skilled workforce.

Recently retired from a rewarding career in the aged care sector, inaugural Level 3 graduate and the Academic Excellence Award recipient, Kandhi Moonsamy, reflects on her time with the college, shares her wisdom and gives a special message for NZTC in its 40th year.

What first inspired you to become a healthcare professional?
I came to New Zealand 16 years ago from South Africa and my friend invited me along to the aged care facility where she volunteered. I felt so touched observing how they assisted the nurses and got alongside the residents, that I was determined then and there that I wanted to work in healthcare. After hearing that NZTC was starting Health and Wellbeing programs, I thought it was a great opportunity to upskill and get a qualification to go alongside my passion.

Why did you choose to study with NZTC?
My decision to be part of the inaugural cohort really came down to NZTC’s core values, as these aligned closely with my own. My favourite value is Spirit – this struck a chord with me as I believe it’s about from the inside, what we can give from our very soul.

After completing Level 3 in 2017, you went on to graduate with Level 4 in 2018. What were your impressions of the programs?
It was the first time for me to study online and I was not computer literate, at first all I could do was send messages and play solitaire! But having a knowledgeable lecturer at the end of the phone, really helped with my confidence and my time with the college was far from the lonely experience that I expected. A feeling of family was fostered through online chit chat and picking each other’s brains. For me, the sense of achievement I felt, that in my 50s I could study something and be good at it, was definitely memorable. I went from being a housewife, to becoming a fully qualified diversional therapist. All things are possible to those that believe and with the backing of NZTC, I was able to achieve.

Share with us some memorable moments from your career working for Bupa.
As the activities coordinator, I remember being asked to drive the minivan. The night before I was so nervous, I couldn’t sleep! I was glad after two years when they hired a driver but we went to some marvellous places that reminded the residents about their past lives. We also did art and music sessions with them, from classical to rock n’roll, they couldn't remember what they had for lunch but they could sure belt out the songs! Another strong memory was when a local school became involved with the care home and young children with their parents would visit. There were many different cultures represented at the home, and I remember this resident from Iraq who could hardly speak English. A brother and sister from this local school came to visit and started speaking to the man in his own language and he broke down in tears. I’ll always remember this – it was such a sight to behold. Many elderly crave touch and attention, and some of them don’t get any visitors. You have to be open to new ways of making these residents lives a little easier.

What has been the most rewarding part of working with the elderly?
That I could make a positive difference in someone’s life, that they need not sit in a corner and wait to die and that I could bring a smile to someone’s face and brighten their day.

Do you have any advice for those thinking of upskilling?
Caregiving is a big responsibility and NZTC supports you with gaining the required knowledge. It’s all very well saying I love this job and have a passion, but you need the skills to go with it. When you have a qualification, there is a pay increase. You are eligible, so why wouldn’t you go for it? The advantages are better pay, better recognition at work, and an expanded skillset.

What message would you like to share with NZTC in their 40th year?
For NZTC’s 40th anniversary, the word that comes to mind is “nurture”. During my time at the college, the lecturers nurtured us so we could do our best. NZTC wouldn’t have lasted 40 years without having this quality. The college has grown in leaps and bounds and sprung up in other countries. My prayer for NZTC is to keep going strong for at least another 40 years, to hold their heads up high, to hold certificates up high and continue showing the world what they can do through NZTC.