Tairāwhiti nurse makes a difference in mental health unit

24 Jul 2017 | Building Leadership & Capability

The latest recipient of the Health Quality & Safety Commission’s Open for leadership award is Rachel Malone (Te Aitanga a Mahaki), a nurse in Hauora Tairāwhiti’s mental health inpatient unit, Te Whare Awhiora.

The Open for leadership awards are coordinated by the Commission. They recognise and celebrate health professionals who demonstrate excellent practice, quality improvement and leadership skills. They are part of the Commission’s work to build capability and leadership in the health sector.

Rachel was nominated by the DHB for her commitment to improving the ward in several ways. Since becoming the ward’s sensory modulation champion, Rachel has reinvigorated the sensory room for consumers, and has motivated other staff members to participate. Sensory modulation helps consumers manage their emotions, stimulating their senses to calm or distract them, for example, music may be used or it may be as simple as providing a quiet space.

Rachel has also taken it upon herself to be part of the DHB’s ‘ending seclusion’ group and often attends meetings in her own time.

She is also being recognised for quality improvement in the handover process. As a result of staff feedback, Rachel researched efficient solutions for handover and a three-month trial is about to take place.

Her manager, Anne Prince, says, ‘Rachel is extraordinary. Staff try new things because of Rachel’s lovely gentle manner of bringing people along with her. She asks for feedback and listens to people. Rachel has become the “go-to person” when something needs to happen in the unit.’

Commission Chief Executive Dr Janice Wilson presented the award today and says Rachel’s exemplary leadership in a complex field of health makes her an extremely deserving recipient.

‘Rachel’s work as a relatively new nurse shows a real commitment to improvement. Her motivation and dedication is something commented on by all who are involved with her,’ Dr Wilson says.

Rachel says she was ‘quite shocked’ to receive the award. ‘We are all about teamwork and supporting others so to be singled out is quite overwhelming. I really value the experience and support of the team in our unit. I learn from them every day,’ said Rachel.

Prior to completing her graduate placement in Te Whare Awhiora, Rachel says she didn’t see herself working in mental health. Now she cannot imagine working anywhere else. ‘It has surprised me how much I love working here. We are here to advocate for our consumers. I love being able to make a difference and hopefully make their lives a little bit easier.’

Rachel credits her own whānau for supporting her through her nursing training (at EIT Tairāwhiti). ‘I decided in my late 20s to follow my inspiration – my mother, who was a nurse. While it wasn’t always easy to study with three small children, they kept me going. I’m doing this for them and am so grateful to my partner Willie and my own parents who enabled me to get my degree.’

As an award recipient, Rachel received a certificate, trophy and free attendance at an upcoming Commission event of her choice.

For more information on the Open for leadership awards and to read more about other recipients click here.

Last updated 24/07/2017