One of the first things I did on Monday morning this week was go and talk to the concierges who are stationed at the main entrance of Middlemore Hospital. As well as welcome and assist visitors, these staff members also help monitor and enforce our smokefree policy and it was because of this that I called in to say hello.
Last week a smokefree campaign was launched to remind patients, visitors and staff that all of our sites are smokefree, including the grounds of Middlemore. I spoke to the concierges to learn more about what they do and acknowledge their contribution to the enforcement of our smokefree policy.
Speaking to the concierges
It’s no secret that smoking is very bad for you but as an ex-smoker myself (and yes, I should have known better) I know how hard it is to give up. On the flip side, if somebody as weak-minded as me can do so, then giving up is possible! I asked the concierges about the experience of challenging people who smoke on our grounds and what message is most effective in changing people’s smoking behaviour.
People who smoke, especially those who have done so for a long time, are aware that smoking is bad for them but have become “immune” to the message. What people instead respond to are messages about the impact smoking has on others. As cited by ASH (Action on Smoking and Health), it is estimated that 50 babies die tragically every year in New Zealand from Sudden Infant Death Syndrome caused by second-hand smoke exposure. Certainly a statistic that makes me stop and think after my child health blog a couple of weeks ago.
One of the lasting thoughts I took away from the discussion with the concierges has been to think about the challenge of change. How do we support each other to make change happen? How do we change our approach to problems in order to arrive at a different solution? If simply delivering the message were all that were needed, then no one would smoke anymore, be overweight or drink too much.
As Einstein once commented, the quickest route to insanity is continuing to do the same thing but expecting a different outcome.
So in order to achieve our objectives, we have to often change our focus. If we want to seek a different solution, we have to be prepared to challenge ourselves about how we approach the problem. You can’t blame people into success.
In the case of smoking, this means not always demonising the individual but finding out what would influence them the most. Or in the case of medical errors, as Dr Mary Seddon and I recently blogged about, it means using a Just Culture framework to analyse the system rather than pointing the finger at the staff involved. I include myself, as CEO, among those who could sometimes apply a different focus to problems in order to solve them. Whether or not it’s our approach to medical errors or our approach to helping people stop smoking, sometimes the most powerful lesson is to stop a minute, think about our behaviours and reflect on how we can support others into success.
This week I’ve had the great pleasure of thanking both people and organisations for their continued commitment to us at CMDHB. It’s hugely important to me to acknowledge the enormous generosity of our partner organisations which makes it possible for us to offer many opportunities to our staff and community, such as scholarships and state-of-the-art equipment and facilities. The Lion Foundation has donated over $1 million to develop our clinical skills training facility which opened this week. Money raised through South Auckland Health Foundation has gone to Kidz First and countless other projects. And the Tindall Foundation has supported our Grow Our Own Workforce initiative over several years.
These few examples reflect the generosity of people in the South Auckland community and I’m really grateful for all of the continued support we receive.
Speaking of Grow Our Own Workforce, have a look at this clip which featured on ONE News on Saturday night. It’s a great example of us working with a partner organisation, in this case the Tindall Foundation, to provide our community with opportunities and turn lives around. Again – supporting each other to make change happen.
Finally I’d like to pass on some comments from members of our board which were discussed at a recent meeting. They’d received great feedback from our community, including the comment that the service received in the public sector was the very best. The feedback was all overwhelmingly positive and, yet again, deserves acknowledgement and sincere thanks to you all for your continued great work.