Keeping it real by walking the wards

The other day I heard a story about a man who had come into Middlemore Hospital to have a procedure done. When asked by a senior staff member about his experience, the one thing that stood out above the rest, was the kind nurse who took the time to make him a cup of tea, and to his delight included a biscuit. For this gentleman this simple act of kindness made him feel taken care of and valued. I found his experience really grounding – and a reminder that the little things like a cup of tea can make a world of difference in our patient’s eyes.

This particular example was shared during a Leadership Ward Round, which as the name suggests is where a group of senior leaders from across the organisation visit a particular ward or unit. The purpose of the visit is to interview patients and staff about their experience and observe the environment.   It’s a great measure to check if we are meeting the granny test, and providing an environment where our patients and staff feel happy, safe and supported.

Jacqui Wynne Jones, CND Surgery, Anaesthesia, Perioperative, and MMC, has been running the leadership rounds for the past four years and in that time has visited all inpatient areas and interviewed hundreds of staff and patients.   Many areas have since been revisited.

What’s interesting is that the areas that demonstrate strong leadership are the areas that report a strong team ethos, which is inclusive of everyone from cleaners to nurses to administrative support to doctors. Patients are also reporting feeling safe and well cared for because there is good communication between staff, who are happy, interested, involved and supportive.

I have been fortunate to attend a couple of these Leadership Ward Rounds and it’s been a really humbling and valuable experience to get an insight into what’s happening at the bedside. First impressions count and I believe people can sum up the care and experience they are going to have in those first few minutes of being in the hospital. That’s why the interview questions asked during the ward round are not only reflective of our values but are posed in a way to capture moments where people are kind to each other, where staff are working together well, where everyone feels part of a team and where there is evidence of innovation with quality resource boards data and patient stories.

While it’s been wonderful to hear about the great work that has been going on, I’m also aware there are areas we need to improve and I thank people for being honest and raising these. We can only improve what we know about and any feedback that helps improve our patient’s experience is valuable. As senior leaders, it’s also our job to provide you with an environment that enables you to do your job well. Part of that is listening to what our staff, patients and their whaanau have to say to make that happen.

“We have come a long way since we started the ward rounds three years ago,” says Jacqui Wynne-Jones. “Where there was initially some trepidation and scepticism, staff now see this as a valuable way of sharing what they do and learning what they could be doing better with the right support.

“What’s been especially exciting to see is the growing demand for people wanting to join the Leadership Ward Round, and the increase in staff inviting us to their areas. There’s a certain level of trust there, which is great to see.   In April we will be heading out to the Localities, which I’m really excited about. In the long term, I’d love to see areas running these Leadership Ward Rounds themselves.   I believe they can really make a difference.”

If you would like further information or would like to join a Leadership Ward Round contact Jacqui Wynne Jones via email:


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.

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