INsite asks MELISSA HALL what attracted her to becoming an interRAI educator and what a typical day involves.

Q: How did you get into the role you’re in now?

Melissa Hall: interRAI is the assessment tool we use in New Zealand to assess a client’s or resident’s needs in aged residential care and home care. I am one of 24 interRAI Educators who train Registered Nurses and other health professionals in the use of interRAI before they can assess clients on their own.

Like most of the interRAI educators, I’m a Registered Nurse. My first experience of nursing was with elderly patients, before I moved into a rehabilitation unit for younger people under 65. Then I spent 13 years in operating theatres, before I became an interRAI Educator.

For a while I was a clinical specialist for a private orthopedic company advising on the use of their products, and this opened up my interest in educating other nurses.

Q: What does a typical day at work entail?

Hall: We have up to eight trainees on a course, and we work hard to have everyone competent within eight weeks. This usually involves three full days in a classroom, often in Wellington, where I live, or sometimes I travel to the training venue. Many of my colleagues are based in other parts of New Zealand, so chances are there is an educator local to you.

When I am not travelling or teaching, I work from the TAS office in Wellington marking assessments, supporting my group of trainees, answering questions, or planning for the next course. We work with any number of trainees in different stages of their training. There are a few milestones trainees need to pass before they become competent assessors. These days are also the days for updating myself on new information, reading articles and reports.

I also go on site visits, where I visit trainees in their facilities to support them during or after training.

Q: What do you love most about your job?

Hall: interRAI educators are a hardworking and passionate bunch, with a keen interest in supporting trainees and a real dedication to quality. I very much enjoy working with my colleagues and have a lot of respect for everyone’s work.

Something else I love about this job is that I meet new people from all around the country every day. I find that I learn from my trainees as much as they learn from me.

This is also one of the few jobs for nurses with regular office work hours.

Q: And what are the most challenging aspects?

Hall: Being inside can be hard. I try to take time out every day to get some fresh air and have a walk.

Q: Have you taken any training or professional development which you’ve found particularly helpful to what you do?

Hall: Most interRAI Educators have been assessors before they start at interRAI Services. I wasn’t, so I went through our own training course first to become a competent assessor. Like every new starter, I then received training as an interRAI educator during my first few weeks on the job. We all teach and evaluate assessments according to national standards, so that each assessor has a similar experience, and each client receives the assessment they deserve.

I also found online courses about advanced care planning and the Meihana model useful.

Q: If you could change one thing about New Zealand’s aged care or retirement industries, what would it be and why?

Hall: I love it when I see providers who bring the community into the facilities, like the Baby buddies in Auckland. There are some great examples out there, and I wish there were more because it can be so beneficial for residents.

In the end, this is what we are here for, clients and residents, and their wellbeing. interRAI was developed to improve the quality of life for the people we assess. The assessments are all about the person, and interRAI produces a lot of valuable data for care planning and clinical decision making.

Q: When you’re not working, where can you be found?

Hall: I usually spend my weekends with my husband and 9 year old son, who is very sporty, so we stand on the sidelines a lot on weekends. I like the outdoors, so I can often be found on the various walking tracks around the Wellington region. My new favourite is the Ara Harakeke track from Pukerua Bay to Paekakariki with some fantastic views to Kapiti Island.

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