The personal side of ANZAC Day

Around this time every year, I always find myself reflecting on ANZAC Day and the solemn and heartfelt way in which Kiwis honour soldiers who died for their country.  This year holds a special significance for my family as my 17-year-old daughter has just joined the NZ Army and will graduate from basic training in June 2015.   Like many before her she joins a legacy of service women and men, who swore a pledge to protect and fight for their country.

Even 100 years on from the ANZAC landings at Gallipoli on 25 April 1915, the spirit of ANZAC Day has not been lost. We still stop to pause, remember and be grateful for the young men and women who fought, and in many cases died, far from home.

Of course, many of us have ancestors who were among this group, or who served their country in successive wars. Today I’d like to share with you a story from Adrienne Kohler from the communications team, who shares her story about her great great Aunt, who was an ANZAC nurse.

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Start a conversation that counts

It’s not easy to talk about planning for your future and end-of-life care, but it is important. 

You may not have heard much about Advance Care Planning (ACP), but it’s something all of us will need to think of at some stage, for ourselves, our loved ones  and for our patients. Advance Care Planning is all about choice – choosing how you want to be treated at the end of your life. The concept is not new, and New Zealand is a bit behind the rest of the world in dealing with this sometimes challenging issue.  Today (16 April) is Conversations that Count Day – a national initiative led by a co-operative of hundreds of people across New Zealand’s health system that is encouraging us to have a ‘Conversation that Counts’. That is, talk to those we care about and with those who will care for us as the end approaches about what we would want for ourselves.

While end of life care isn’t an easy subject for health professionals to bring up, ACP can be a welcome topic for patients who may be worrying about the sort of care they will receive, but have been reluctant to discuss it with their whaanau.

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The empathy zone

During patient experience week (23-26 March), I popped in to the very popular empathy zone, where you could experience some of the challenges facing our patients and people living in our community. For example you could put on a pair of glasses, which reduce sight, use a wheelchair or crutches, try putting on a hospital gown with an arm splint and attempt simple tasks, like threading beads, while wearing padded gloves.

I tried on a pair of goggles, to see what it would be like for a person who has glaucoma – a condition that can cause blindness if left untreated.   What I experienced were blind spots in my vision, making it very hard to see. As I banged into chairs and tables, I kept thinking how would I cope with deteriorating vision on a day-to-day basis.

So what did other people experience?

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Middlemore Hospital’s Emergency Care leads the way

We all strive to provide the best care for our patients, and it takes a lot of work, patience and motivation to create a culture where continuous quality improvement is expected, talked about and adhered to.

Such a culture can be found in Emergency Care with staff from a range of disciplines working together to ensure patients receive time critical treatments within the 6 hour target.

To achieve this, the team has developed a structured Quality Improvement plan using the acronym DAASHH to highlight its priority quality projects.  Vanessa Thornton, Clinical Director of EC explains what DAASHH stand for.

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Walking in a patient’s shoes

For anyone who has been on the receiving end of hospital care, it can be a very uncertain and vulnerable time.  I’ve been a patient a couple of times in my life, and although my experiences have been largely positive, there is much to learn from being on the other side of care.

For example, I have experienced what it feels like to be in pain, to be nil per mouth and waiting for surgery and to rely on staff to help with basic activities of daily living, such as dressing, getting out of bed and showering.   While I don’t suggest you go through what I did, to understand what our patients are feeling, the experience has given me a taste of what it’s like to walk in a patient’s shoes, even for a short period.

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The facts and nothing but the facts

Most of the time I love my job, but there are moments where I want to bang my head against a brick wall and scream. I’m sure many of you can relate, and because it helps to get things off my chest, I’m sharing my story in my blog.

Some of you may have come across a recent article in the paper that reported CM Health is facing a predicted funding shortfall of $100m. Apart from the fact that this is incorrect, what really annoys me is the effect this has on staff. On the one hand people hear that CM Health is doing really well and then suddenly we are in deficit. These mixed messages can cause people to unduly worry. The purpose of this blog is to set the record straight.  So let me take you back to what happened.

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Most popular blogs

I’ve been blogging for over three years, and it’s a weekly ritual that I look forward to.   Looking back at previous posts I’m in awe of how much we have grown as an organisation, what we have accomplished – big and small and the amazing people who work here.

To date we have published 174 blogs with a total of 112,460 hits – that’s quite an achievement. While the blogs are increasing in popularity, what intrigues me is the interest they are receiving from people around the world. This includes our neighbours from across the Tasman, the United Kingdom, USA, India, Japan, France, Germany and Africa.  Our voice is being heard across the globe!

So what were the most popular blogs from 2014?

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