Passion for public health leads to award for long-serving nurse France Badham | Te Whatu Ora - Te Tai Tokerau

Passion for public health leads to award for long-serving nurse France Badham

France Badham standing with her whanau and friends, and holding her award.

From left to right: Lavinia Perumal, France’s daughter Gabrielle Badham, France’s son Terry Badham, France Badham, Marama Royal (Ngāti Whatua Orakei Co-Chair), and Malcolm Patterson.

Congratulations to France Badham who won the Ko Te Māranga Ora (Health and Wellbeing) category at the recent 2022 Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei Awards(external link).

France won the award for her mahi and contribution to nursing and as a member of the COVID-19 Response Directorate. France’s colleagues are immensely proud of her achievement.

“France is a dedicated and caring nurse with a passion for the community and its wellbeing,” says Pamela Marino, Clinical Nurse Manager for the COVID-19 Response Directorate at Te Whatu Ora – Te Tai Tokerau. She is always thoughtful and considerate towards others going the extra mile in all she does. She is an awesome team member and is flexible, adapting to whatever is required to carry out the COVID Response mahi. We are very proud of France and feel privileged to have her as part of our team.”

France has been a nurse for more than 40 years, much of it working for Te Whatu Ora – Te Tai Tokerau.

France was 15 years old and working in the Palmerston North Hospital laundry when the spark for being a nurse was lit. “I thought, ‘I wonder what the history is behind these things?’.

With the support of her stepmother, father, and husband she enrolled at Tikipunga High School as an adult student not really knowing what she was going to be studying.

It was a very bold step for someone who had attended only a few weeks of high school. It was to be the beginning of an ongoing learning journey which would encompass post-graduate study and more than 40 years in nursing to date, including working in Alice Springs ED with indigenous people and as an agency nurse in London.

Nursing is a team occupation, says France, and she is quick to emphasise that winning the award is an acknowledgement for everyone she works with.

“I readily acknowledge that I am just part of the most awesome team. Jeanette Wedding and Pamela Marino’s commitment to making this mahi accessible to the people who need it but might not be accessing the health system, and the way that they have looked outside of the square to get us out there into the community, makes me proud.”

The award nomination came as a complete surprise, says France. “I was just blown away. This recognition is just incredible. I’m very humbled.” The setting for the award evening itself was very glamorous and France says she felt quite overwhelmed by the sense of occasion.

“It was an incredible place. I felt surrounded by magic. Knowing that every single person that was there was related to me was wonderful. It was inspiring. I felt very small compared to the other people there and what they’d done and the big differences they’ve made. Hearing all the Reo spoken around me and listening to all the stories makes me feel proud knowing our future is in very strong and capable hands. I wasn’t aware that I would have to give a speech and sing a waiata, so I was grateful my son and daughter, and Lavinia Peruma, and Malcolm Patterson were there to awhi me.”

The award itself was for France’s contribution as part of the COVID-19 response and France says that nursing during the pandemic has been a profound experience for her.

“Within this COVID team, under the leadership of Pamela who goes above and beyond to support us, the people I’ve met on this journey have been just incredible. We were out there in all weathers, and most of us are not in our youth, we’re bordering on prehistoric! I have such admiration for our team. Working as a public health nurse was just such an amazing opportunity, to step into people’s worlds and see it at the grassroots level. This is where the changes need to be made to help all our people.

“I’ve been able to see that there are so many barriers for people to access services. To witness the thinking that Jeanette and Pamela have put into getting around those barriers, so that rather than expecting the people to come to us, for example those that don’t have petrol or cars or money to get into town, we’re taking the mountain to our people.”

France has been very moved to be part of a group of such dedicated people.

“I love working with such a flexible group of beautiful people that are prepared to go above and beyond at the drop of a hat. We were working 12 or more days in a row because there was another gap that needed filling.”

France will soon be 64 but her passion for nursing remains undimmed and her wish to work in public health is strong. If she were talking to her 15-year-old self-contemplating the start of a nursing career now she says she would advise herself to “Go for it and give it heaps! And carry on with your learning. It doesn’t stop with your qualification. Stick at it and ask for help because there is plenty available.”

“It is a very challenging but equally very rewarding profession,” she says. “To have that ability to reach across a huge chasm of what could be a really tough time for someone and to see that your touch has reconnected them, to be able to practice empathy and compassion in a non-judgemental way, that is everything.”

France recognises that service professions require a particular set of personal qualities.

“You need to have courage. You need to stand up when you don’t agree with something that’s happening that you see is not right. You need to have empathy for some of the situations whānau find themselves in. You need to have compassion and resilience. Communication is vital. You need to be able to step into other people’s worlds and make sure your language is able to be understood by them. You’ve got to be authentic. People can see when you’re not. Manaakitanga is important.”

France says that while winning an award has been a wonderful acknowledgement, she would like to see nurses, doctors, support staff and administrative staff and service workers in other sectors being valued for the work they do as part of the country’s backbone. “We have been undervalued for so long.”

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