Understanding the Patient and Whaanau Experience

Recently I had the huge privilege of speaking to our team of Kidz First public health nurses. It was a great opportunity to meet some new faces and hear firsthand about the fantastic work they are doing behind the scenes, particularly with the Mana Kidz Rheumatic Fever programme. We also talked about the barriers that prevent us from providing the best possible patient care. We shared stories, which I’m sure you’ll all relate to, about the frustrations the nurses face when trying to do the right thing for patients in a system that seems to make this difficult rather than straight forward. In doing so, I was reminded of a story of my own which involved my family’s nanny about 17 years ago. I’ve shared it through my blog before but I want to revisit it today because it really is one of the defining moments of my career to date.

When our children were young, their nanny discovered a breast lump soon after starting employment with us. She became increasingly stressed and worried, emotions we attributed to our kids. We only found out about her lump much later on, at which point she told us a heartbreaking story about missed appointments, lost x-rays and unorganised tests at the hospital I was then in charge of. The mishandling of her case meant it had taken over two months for her to learn whether or not she had cancer. The realisation that this had happened to someone I knew at the hospital I led startled me. I learnt firsthand the importance of what we do in health and the responsibility we all have for making sure we do it right. This learning remains just as relevant today as it was at the time.

Group workWith that in mind, I was delighted to attend another event last week – the launch of CM Health’s new Patient and Whaanau Experience Programme.  This launch brought together health professionals, patients and carers to talk about the patient experience and how we can deliver care and orientate our services so that our patients are empowered to make the right decision for themselves and their whaanau. I’m joined today by Dr Lynne Maher, our Director of Innovation at Ko Awatea, to tell you more about the programme, which she is leading alongside Director of Nursing, Denise Kivell, and Dr Peter Gow, the Clinical Director for Patient and Whaanau Centred Care.

The experiences that patients, their whaanau and healthcare staff have when they receive or deliver healthcare services are really valuable and can be used to help us work together to transform those services. Within CM Health there are already a number of staff, patients and whaanau working closely together to improve services, for example within our mental health services, teams are exploring many aspects of the journey through care and our Breast Clinic has been applauded for its great patient centred services. We recognise how important it is to increase partnership by working in this way and last week launched a Patient and Whaanau Experience Programme which is an exciting new way of bringing patients, their whaanau and staff together to share the role of improving care through co-design of services.

The programme is supporting 19 projects from across our health system to capture, understand, improve and measure patient experience. These have a wide focus, for example working closely with school staff, parents, healthcare staff and children who are at risk of Rheumatic Fever; exploring services for integrated care from the patient’s perspective, improving appointment booking in endoscopy and working closely with residents and care staff to reduce their risk of falling.

Over 80 people spent the day at the launch event and it was a joy seeing patients, staff and whaanau learning and working together. Our youngest participant was only 5 months old and of course his mum was helping us too.

Our senior leaders are also very involved – Geraint is working on a project on health literacy with staff member Fale Lea’aetalafo’ou and Renee Greaves, our new Patient Advisor. Director of Allied Health, Martin Chadwick, is the sponsor for a project on integrated care and Denise Kivell (the overall sponsor for the programme) is also supporting a team who are working on having effective medication conversations with patients. Dr Peter Gow was there to provide his expertise, advice and support to all of the teams and Ian Kaihe-Wetting was working with the team he sponsors to understand how we can help some patients better self manage their own care. 

The programme runs until the end of July. We will be sharing regular updates so watch this space.

Geraint and Lynne


Author: Geraint Martin

Geraint Martin was appointed Chief Executive Officer of Counties Manukau DHB in December 2006. It is one of the largest District Health Boards in New Zealand and services a population of half a million. He has significant experience over 30 years in national policy & in managing both primary and secondary care . Previously, he was Director of Health and Social Care Strategy at the Welsh Government .He authored a radical 10 year strategy of reform, including the successful “Saving 1000 lives” Campaign.Until 2004, he was CEO at Kettering General Hospital & had held senior positions in London & Birmingham.He has worked closely with clinicians in improving clinical standards,patient safety,chronic disease management & managing acute care to reduce hospital demand.In NZ, He has promoted clinical quality and leadership as central to improving patientcare. This has led to a significant increases in productivity and access, whilst maintaining financial balance. CMH has completed in 2014 a $500 m capital redevelopment programme, the largest in New Zealand. A central part of this is the establishment of Ko Awatea,the Centre for Innovation and Research which will underpin CMH as one of the the leading health systems in Australasia.In 2008, he chaired the Ministerial Review of Emergency Care in New Zealand, and in 2013 was an member of the Expert Advisory Panel on Health Sector Performance. Geraint has an MSc in Health Policy from Birmingham University .His post-graduate work has focused on health economics and Corporate Strategy . He is adjunct Professor of Healthcare Management at AUT and Victoria University, Wellington Elected in 2006 as a Companion of the Institute of Healthcare Management, previously he was an Associate Fellow at Birmingham University.He is is Chair of the Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra, a member of the Institute of Directors, on the Board of the NZ Institute of Health Management & previously the Board of The NZ Health Quality and Safety Commission.

One thought on “Understanding the Patient and Whaanau Experience”

  1. Kia ora Geraint, your nanny story is a reminder to us all that we need to look out for each other- starting in our own homes with the people around us- I think sometimes in our busyness to save the world we forget about those nearest to us.

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