Presbyterian Support New Zealand's Enliven service for older people has launched a new initiative in Whanganui.

With more residents making the decision to move to a rest home, Enliven has established a new cultural advisory group to ensure staff are equipped with the skills they require to meet elders' increasingly diverse cultural needs.

The group, which will help staff consider the ways in which they might incorporate an awareness of culture into their daily interactions with residents, will be led by Te Whānau-ā-Apanui iwi member Trish Boswell, manager of Whanganui's Kowhainui Home and Village and Abingdon Village.

"Just because someone doesn't go to church or actively discuss their culture, it doesn't mean they don't have culturally-specific ways of doing things which are important to them," says Boswell.

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"Our first goal is to focus on tangata whenua and ensure we have guidelines in place to meet their spiritual and cultural needs, and then use those experiences to look at how we can be more attentive to other cultural practices."

Kowhainui Home recreation officer Frances Craven, a former chief executive of Maketu Health, says there are all sorts of ways to use knowledge of a person's cultural upbringing to make a difference.

"A good example of this in action happened recently when we organised a delicious boil-up for residents.

"The Māori residents in particular really appreciated it as it's something they were brought up with, and they value those links with the past very much."