Catholic health and welfare agencies working together for a better Canterbury

15 June 2016

Agencies working in Catholic pastoral care, health care and social service are aiming to provide better service coordination and identify and meet community needs.

The collaboration follows a meeting of key agencies last week hosted by St John of God Hauora Trust. Agencies in attendance represented Te Rangimarie Marae, St Vincent de Paul, Caritas, the Diocese and the Diocesan Welfare Council, the Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace, Catholic Women’s League, the Catholic Worker, The Little Company of Mary, The John Paul II Centre, Faith and Light, Sisters of Mercy, RNDM Sisters and the Hospitaller Order of St John of God.

New Zealand’s Catholic Health sector has a long tradition in our city, the Sisters of the Good Shepherd commencing a care home for women in Halswell in 1887 and Nazareth House opening in 1910. This history of care however is smaller in scale than international examples like Australia, where the Catholic Health sector employs approximately 35,000 people across 75 health care facilities – including publicly (21) and privately (54) funded hospitals as well as seven major teaching hospitals.

Following a consistent phase of focus on organisational and service delivery issues as a result of the 2010 earthquakes, providers and the Diocese of Christchurch are now looking to further improve care coordination and collaboration across the sector.

Mike Stopforth, Director of the Bishop’s Pastoral Office, said that “the Year of Mercy announced by Pope Francis allows all those connected to the Diocese to reflect on how we care for those in need.  The day has allowed a number of our organisations to see how we can work together and use our resources more effectively.”

Bevan Killick, Board Chair of St John of God Hauora Trust, said that “working together more as Catholic Ministries has great capacity to help us identify needs, challenges, resources and opportunities for organisational co-operation that will better deliver on unmet need in our region.”

A number of themes were identified focused on housing, community engagement, funding and information sharing where collaboration could help contribute to better services:

  • Improvements in how Diocese health and welfare agencies celebrate excellence and demonstrate to stakeholders the breadth and value of the work of the Catholic Mission in Canterbury.
  • Improvements in networking and information sharing across services built on analysing and leveraging available data sets in the sector.
  • Volunteer coordination across the Parishes in Canterbury to create increasingly engaging opportunities for people to use their skills in the service of others.
  • Coordination of fundraising development helping to provide security of services across organisations.
  • Housing access and coordination for people who are both in need of service provision as well as wrap-around social service support.
  • The importance and opportunity that school communities represent.

The organisations will now work together through the Diocesan Welfare Council to establish an ongoing plan of cooperation and action.