Waikato DHB's success with frontline ownership

20 Sep 2016 | Infection Prevention & Control

Frontline ownership (FLO) is giving staff at Waikato District Health Board (DHB) a new way of improving patient care, and they are loving every minute of it.

Surgical service nurse manager Melody Mitchell has been using FLO since DHB staff attended a session hosted by the Health Quality & Safety Commission, with Dr Michael Gardam in September 2015.

Frontline ownership is a quality improvement approach that engages and empowers frontline staff to come up with and implement their own solutions to local issues, from hand hygiene improvement to preventing falls. Frontline staff often have insights into what is working well and not so well in their own wards and units. They are best placed to identify and test local ideas and solutions, making them more likely to succeed.

Ms Mitchell says the benefits of FLO quickly became apparent to her and the team.

‘Rather than fighting fires every week on the same issues, now we can poke our heads above and think “what is really going on here and what can we really work on and achieve?”’ she says.

‘It’s been a lot of fun actually, being able to try new ideas has been a great way to keep the atmosphere creative and explore all our options.’

Ms Mitchell says in using frontline ownership her team has taken to flipping questions on their head. Instead of asking what good care would look like or what would support best practice in their area, they identify what bad care or practice looks like, and how they can avoid it.

‘I really want to try and figure out what is quality, what are we doing and what could we do differently,’ she says.

‘It was important for us to create a culture which encourages creativity and gives staff the freedom to come up with new ideas.’

Melody is hopeful to see FLO spread and help other teams and hospitals with their own improvement strategies.

‘The intention is to get improved outcomes, and explore the issues we face and solutions for those. It’s definitely lead by nursing here in Waikato, but we’re seeing it picked up more and more.’

Last updated 30/07/2018