New survey of mental health staff will support improvements in quality of care

29 Jun 2018 | Mental Health & Addiction Quality Improvement

A new national survey is being introduced that will take a unique look at factors affecting the quality and safety of New Zealand’s mental health and addiction (MHA) services. 

The Ngā Poutama Oranga Hinengaro: Quality in context survey (Ngā Poutama) will ask staff working in MHA services about their beliefs, attitudes and behaviours in regards to quality and safety. These human factors are known to affect the overall outcomes of care.

The survey is being delivered by the Health Quality & Safety Commission’s MHA quality improvement programme. Staff working in district health board, non-government organisation and primary care MHA services across the country will be invited to complete the survey during August 2018.

Ngā Poutama will be the first national survey to look at the human factors influencing quality in MHA services. Questions will cover a wide range of quality-related topics including communication, culture and knowledge.

The survey is set to play an important role in shaping future sector improvements, says Dr Clive Bensemann, clinical lead for the Commission’s MHA programme. ‘We know that the quality and safety culture of an organisation directly affects quality of care, the experience of consumers, their families and whānau, and the ultimate outcomes of care. It also impacts the long-term success of any improvement initiatives.

‘Where there is a strong quality and safety culture, you will see leadership supporting all staff to continually update their skills. Staff are able to talk safely about mistakes, near misses and adverse events. On the other hand, where there are issues with the organisational culture, such as lack of teamwork or communication failure, the result can be medication errors and adverse events.’

By capturing data on the attitudes, beliefs and behaviours of staff, the Commission will be able to establish a baseline of information about the quality and safety culture in services, which will inform the design of quality improvement initiatives and allow them to monitor changes over time.

Internationally, improvements in staff perceptions of the safety culture have been associated with decreases in errors, patient length of stay, and staff turnover. The Commission plans to repeat the survey every two-to-three years.

Ngā Poutama will be one of several surveys directed at MHA staff in 2018. Careful steps have been taken by the Commission’s MHA team to ensure that the Ngā Poutama survey is complementary to those surveys already underway, to minimise any cross-over in content, and maximise the value of time staff will need to take to complete the brief survey.

Results are expected to be confirmed by late 2018, and findings will be made available on the Commission website, as well as provided to key stakeholders and survey participants.

‘We urge those working in MHA services to take a few minutes to complete the Ngā Poutama survey, so that they can help us maximise our efforts to improve the quality and safety of MHA services over coming years,’ says Dr Bensemann.

The mental health and addiction quality improvement programme is being led by the Health Quality & Safety Commission in partnership with health service providers, consumers and their families and whānau. The five-year programme was established to identify, select and implement quality improvement initiatives and build quality improvement capability in the mental health and addiction sector.

The te reo Māori survey name Ngā Poutama Oranga Hinengaro reflects the Commission and sector’s shared commitment to the continued support and improvement of mental health and addiction services. Oranga hinengaro encompasses a broad understanding of mental wellbeing and poutama are the stepped patterns seen in tukutuku panels on the wall of the wharenui (meeting house) which climb upward to meet at the tāhuhu (ridgepole), symbolising a cooperative journey of advancement to the highest levels of knowledge.

Last updated 29/06/2018