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Profile on Kerry Weir-Smith, 2019/20 mental health and addiction quality improvement facilitator course graduate

Mental health & addiction quality improvement
19 July 2020

Kerry Weir-Smith, graduate of the mental health and addiction quality improvement facilitator course.

Kerry Weir-Smith is one of the 2019/20 mental health and addiction quality improvement facilitator course graduates. Here, Kerry talks about how she found the training, the project she completed and how the overall experience has influenced her work.

Kerry sits within the quality team for Mental Health, Addictions and Intellectual Disability Service (MHAIDS) for the 3DHBs – Capital & Coast, Hutt Valley and Wairarapa. Her focus is the forensic and rehabilitation and intellectual disability services at the Porirua campus.

‘We support a number of adults and youth with complex mental health, addiction and intellectual disability diagnoses; some of whom are forensic clients,’ Kerry says, ‘so a number of the units are secure facilities.’

Kerry describes her work as diverse and energising. She works across a range of improvement projects supporting teams at service and unit level that include the national mental health and addiction quality improvement programme Zero seclusion and Learning from adverse events[1] and consumer, family and whānau experience projects, and building improvement capacity and capability within the sector.

Day to day the work is varied and includes providing support to clinical staff[2] around audits, controlled documents, improvement projects, participation in working groups managing workplace violence, development of the consumer pathway and digital consumer records, reviewing adverse events and looking at how to support implementation of adverse event review recommendations.

Kerry’s background is in occupational therapy, mostly working in inpatient mental health units. She says her passion and strength is in improvement work. She believes there is always room for growth, learning and different ways to achieve the best possible outcome for people receiving services.

Kerry worked with a colleague on a project focused on improving response times for serious adverse event reviews within MHAIDS. The project explored the reasons behind the delay in response time and a number of ideas for improvement were tested including how the review team is appointed, and the development of a timeline to help improve documentation and data collection.

‘We started by nominating three (rather than one) reviewers at the start of the adverse event review process. This meant if one of the reviewers wasn’t available, we could try another without having to wait a month for the next adverse event review committee meeting.’

Kerry is pleased to report things are going ‘incredibly well’. Time periods for adverse event reviews have reduced and new processes are being tested.

‘There were some simple changes that could be made which have significant benefits and without the quality improvement facilitator course we wouldn’t have been in a position to do it. All-round it was a positive experience. I feel confident I can support clinical staff to implement quality improvement projects. There’s more potential for me to grow.’

Congratulations to all the 2019/20 graduates and their project sponsors and teams for their excellent work this year.


  1. ‘An adverse event is an event with negative or unfavourable reactions or results that are unintended, unexpected or unplanned. In practice this is most often understood as an event that results in harm or has the potential to result in harm to a consumer.’ (Health Quality & Safety Commission. 2017. Learning from adverse events: Adverse events reported to the Health Quality & Safety Commission 1 July 2016 to 30 June 2017. Wellington: Health Quality & Safety Commission, p 4).
  2. Clinical staff are specialist staff that includes nurses, social workers and doctors.

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