Patients Value Chance to Offer Feedback to Northland DHB

Kevin Salmon had a lot of unresolved feelings about his late mother’s quick and sudden cancer journey last year. So when the chance came for patients and family to voice their feedback to Northland DHB staff this month, he leapt at it.

Northland DHB recently launched a values campaign called Enriching and Embedding Our Values to understand what values-led care, patient and whānau centered care looks like to patients, whānau and staff.

The campaign is the result of a Patient Safety and Quality Improvement Review – a first for New Zealand and commissioned by chief executive Dr Nick Chamberlain - to take a comprehensive look at Northland DHB safety and quality systems with a key focus on improving patient experience.

Dr Chamberlain said the purpose of the review was to better understand the things staff were doing well and identify the things they can do better, striving to consistently deliver high-quality patient centred care, safely.

“We need to put the patient at the centre of everything we do, get smart intelligence, focus on improving organisational systems, and nurture caring cultures while ensuring that all staff feel valued, respected, engaged and supported,” he said.

As part of the campaign, a number of listening events were held at Northland DHB hospitals, which included patients, carers, whānau members and staff. 

Mr Salmon says, when he heard about the listening event In Your Shoes, he thought it would be a nice opportunity to talk to staff and pass on feedback.

“There are consequences to events that happen that staff can have control over. Sometimes there are large potential consequences. They are not inhumane so it was nice to be able to explain.”

Mr Salmon, who was also there representing the Northland Health Consumer Council and Alzheimer’s Society Northland, felt he was listened to and was able to get his point across.

“I didn’t realise it was going to be so emotional for me but I felt (the event) was very eye-opening for everyone.”

Patients who attended said they expected to be treated with a good attitude, be listened to, be spoken to like they were human beings, have their families involved and without prejudice. They expected good hygiene and a common theme amongst the feedback was the excellent care but a shortage of staff with one commenting:  ‘While the calibre of staff was excellent, they just didn’t have enough time to provide the personal care required’.

Some members of the public became upset while recalling their experiences, which were close to the heart but, overall the mood was light-hearted.

Planning, Outcomes, Integrated Care and District Hospitals general manager Sam Bartrum said the workshops, run by UK-based facilitator Tim Keogh, brought over especially, have been a ‘positive, warm and enriching experience’.

“(Tim Keogh) has engaged 50 staff in co-facilitation of sessions and left us with detailed Facilitator Guides to ensure we have the tools and expertise within our organisation to run more of these types of sessions in the future.

“Feedback has been very positive from staff, patients and board members who attended patient listening events. Many patients said, ‘I felt someone really listened to me for the first time’, with staff saying ‘We should do more of this’.”

Likewise staff got a lot from the workshops. Whangarei Hospital-based house officer Tom Reynolds says he learnt to communicate better.

“(I learnt that) the amount of information we talk about or discuss is not presented in a way that can be understood. It really emphasised that often we speak in code.

“I will certainly be trying to make sure I explain things in plain English and without jargon.”

Emergency and Medical Services service manager Peter Wood also attended and found the experience ‘humbling’.

“I was proud that we have patients willing to share their experience but, more importantly, we are willing to listen and put their comments into our everyday actions.

“I learnt from the patient that there are times when patients present with an acute condition and we have the shortest amount of time to interact with them but this can have the most profound effect upon. When patients are acutely unwell they want reassurance and confidence that we know what we’re going and a simple acknowledgement in the form of eye contact, touch or voice is sometimes all that a patient may need.

“In my role I don’t have regular contact with patients, I will change that. I look forward to putting our rich information into practice and developing regular patient forums to continue our good work.”

Over the five days of Values Week there were 18 workshops across the four districts with 758 staff places filled and 139 patients attending ‘In Your Shoes’ workshops. In addition, 429 staff and 349 patients responded to a Values survey.

All materials from workshops and surveys will be typed word for word and analysed by April Strategy over the next month. A summary document will be produced and sent out to all patient and staff workshop participants. A number of resources will be produced out of the analysed material.  

“We will be able to draw on this for staff training and development and in the improvement of our services,” said Mr Bartrum. “It is such a privilege to be in the company of patients sharing their very personal experiences in our services. We have heard fabulous stories of great service and some very heart-wrenching recollections that are so important for us to hear, to learn from.”

Said Dr Chamberlain: "With your views, input and energy, we can get a really clear view of what patient and whānau centred care looks like in our day-to-day work. By really living up to our values we can create a kinder, more caring, happier workplace and be a truly patient and whānau centred organisation.”

Lead facilitator Tim Keogh with co-facilitators Marina Gross and Jenni Moore at one of the listening events.

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