Northland nurse recognised for consumer focus

11 Aug 2017 | Building Leadership & Capability

A forward-thinking approach to how our young doctors are trained is behind the latest Open for leadership award.

Health Quality & Safety Commission chief executive Dr Janice Wilson presented the award to Northland DHB registered nurse Gemma Watts this afternoon.

Ms Watts took part in the Commission’s patient co-design programme, which saw her work with patients and their families and whānau to improve experiences on the rehabilitation ward.

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.Gemma Watts trophy smallBeginning in 2013, Ms Watts interviewed patients and their families and whānau during their stay in the rehabilitation ward. These interviews allowed issues to be identified and suggestions to be made on how the ward team could work alongside patients. 

‘For example, we might ask, “Tell me about how your day looks and what troubles you have at the moment”. It’s about capturing the whole person and not just the reason they’re in hospital. The key is establishing trust in a safe environment.

‘Issues that patients and their families and whānau identified included the restricted visiting hours and the doors to the ward being shut. Families also said they wanted to take part in providing patient care.’

The work Ms Watts carried out in 2013 has been used to make changes in the ward, including involving families and whānau in goal-setting meetings and encouraging them to work alongside the team providing care. 

‘Working in partnership with patients is built into my practice now,’ Ms Watts says. ‘Whānau are crucial in the transition for patients to get home.’

Dr Wilson says a co-design process is an important part of providing high-quality care.

‘The Commission encourages all DHBs to consider how consumers and their families and whānau can provide input to improve their care. The work Ms Watts has carried out in Northland is a clear example of this.’

Gemma Watts’ dedication has also drawn praise from her DHB.

‘Despite being in her first year of practice at the time, Gemma demonstrated interpersonal skills that were beyond what would be expected of a new nurse,’ clinical nurse manager Denise Watene says. 

‘She is able to listen empathetically, creating an environment where the patient and their family feel safe to give honest feedback.’

Dr Wilson says Ms Watts’ work is in line with the government’s strong focus on supporting and enabling safe patient care and saving lives. 

‘Recent nationwide successes include a reduction in falls resulting in broken hips, a reduction in CLAB – a blood stream infection, and a reduction in some surgical site infections. All these successes owe a lot to the work of our current and emerging leaders.’

Ms Watts was given a trophy by Dr Wilson and will be sponsored to attend a 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 14/08/2017