Leadership award for Nelson occupational therapist

29 May 2018 | Building Leadership & Capability

Nelson Marlborough District Health Board (DHB) occupational therapist Emma Williams has received an Open for leadership award for numerous projects she has initiated, led and coordinated.

Emma Williams Karen Orsborn award presentation

Emma Williams (left) receives an Open for leadership award from Commission Deputy Chief Executive Karen Orsborn

In addition to her role as an occupational therapist case manager, lead crisis worker and, more recently, clinical coordinator, Emma’s achievements include:

  • leading the trial of a triage tool within the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service (CAMHS), including developing and delivering training packages and promoting the tool to other services
  • being the point of contact, along with her manager, for ongoing changes to out of hours mental health service teams, including writing a proposed model of service delivery
  • developing processes and pathways for service development within CAMHS to increase consistencies in response to communities and break down barriers to access to services
  • delivering in-service training to outside agencies around child and adolescent mental health
  • convening and leading the working party that organised a district-wide occupational therapy study day
  • leading the coordination and facilitation of monthly meetings for mental health occupational therapists
  • supervising colleagues completing study and developing working relationships with The University of Auckland.

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

The awards’ criteria have been expanded in 2018 to include emerging leaders in district alliances and consumers, and to specifically target primary care. Award winners must be within their first five years of taking on a clinical leader’s role.

Emma trained as an occupational therapist in the UK and then worked with people with intellectual disabilities, and later in a private residential care facility for high risk adolescents with severe and enduring mental health issues.

Looking for a better work/life balance brought Emma and her partner to Nelson in 2012, where she joined the CAMHS as a crisis case manager. She took up the clinical coordinator role in January 2018.

Commission Deputy Chief Executive Karen Orsborn, who presented Emma with her award, says it recognises her exemplary leadership, work ethic and commitment to children and families.

‘Emma’s innovative approach to change, positive attitude and natural ability to lead stood out from the moment she arrived at the DHB.

‘She is a strong, emerging leader for both allied health and mental health, and is constantly looking for ways to further enhance service provision.

‘Her work leading liaison across services regarding changes to mental health out of hours services and helping to steer this significant change has been exceptional.’

Emma says it has been important for her to keep her caseload as she has taken on additional projects.

‘I’ve been working and building relationships with these people for a significant period. It wouldn’t have been helpful for them to be transferred to another case manager just because my job has changed. It’s important that they remain the focus.’

She says she has found good opportunities and support for her ideas to improve service delivery in New Zealand.

‘I’m always striving for more in terms of keeping evidence-based practice up to date, removing barriers associated with access to services and promoting more of a community response.

‘Listening to consumer feedback is vital, so it’s important to have someone in a management leadership role, like a clinical coordinator, who is accessible to consumers and able to respond to them quickly.’

She says winning the award came out of the blue as she had no idea she’d been nominated.

‘I’m just doing my job, which I feel passionate about. That is reward in itself, so to get that level of recognition is quite humbling. I’m trying to enjoy it as much as possible.’

More information on the Open for leadership awards, including other recipients, is available here.

Last updated 29/05/2018