Let’s walk the talk

I’ve talked about patient safety in previous blogs, and there’s a reason why it features so regularly. Providing the best and safest care for our patients sits at the core of what we do. That’s why we work in health and that’s why we come to work each day to provide the best care and experience possible. Next week (31 October – 4 November) marks patient safety week at CM Health, and while there is a range of activities planned, patient safety should be a priority every day – 24/7.   The theme for this year’s national patient safety week, run by the Health Quality & Safety Commission is ‘Let’s Talk’, however CM Health is taking it a step further by saying ‘Let’s Walk the Talk’, which means doing what we say we will when it comes to safety, quality and experience.   I’m a firm believer that we need to lead by example and I’ve seen this demonstrated in some of our patient safety initiatives within our hospital and out in the community. However patient safety is a moving feast and we need to keep raising the bar when it comes to ensuring our patients receive the best care, every day. I’m joined by David Hughes, Clinical Director for patient safety, who shares his thoughts about the future of patient safety for CM Health.

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The new Tiaho Mai

There has been a lot of discussion in the media in recent times about how we as a society and in particular how District Health Boards care for our mentally unwell. As a health board, we recognise the importance of treating our very unwell patients with the best, evidence-based therapeutic environment possible. To this end, I am very pleased to share with you the imminent start of the new Tiaho Mai. We will soon be moving some patients into other refurbished but temporary areas to allow for construction to begin over the next couple of months.

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The Lymphoedema Service at Middlemore Hospital saved my life

From [L] Peggy, Tracy and Jodie
From [L] Peggy, Tracy and Jodie
Eight years ago Tracy hadn’t heard of Lymphoedema – a swelling in an area of the body due to damaged lymph nodes.

Tracy was a fit, active young woman, competing in track and field. Lymphoedema hadn’t crossed her mind – why would it?   However, that was about to change when she rolled her ankle while taking part in a search and rescue exercise. “My ankle started to swell up, however instead of the swelling coming down over time, it got worse. At one stage you couldn’t tell my ankle from the rest of my leg,” says Tracy.

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People helping people

Imagine you are experiencing a long-term health condition that is having a big effect on your life. While your doctor can tell you what your condition is and your treatment options, for many people it’s not until they talk to someone who has “walked in their shoes”, and has the time to listen and understand their individual circumstances, that they start to find ways to cope with, recover from, or live well with their condition.

This powerful tool of engagement is called Peer Support, and it’s being used by the Kia Kaha team, led by health psychologist Leona Didsbury at East Tamaki Healthcare, to change the way services connect with people who have long-term conditions, who are not managing well. I’m now joined by David Codyre, Psychiatrist and Clinical Lead Manaaki Hauora, Supporting Wellness Campaign to tell us more.

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Risk management is everyone’s business

The Titanic is an extreme, yet useful example of what can happen when you don’t have a risk management plan in place. In 1912 the Titanic, the ship that many thought was unsinkable struck an iceberg and within three hours sunk to the bottom of the North Atlantic. An inquiry of why the titanic sunk identified three contributing factors: the men in the crow’s nest did not have any binoculars, poorly cast wrought-iron rivets caused the steel plates on the hull to come apart and the engines were underpowered to turn for the size of the ship. The result – they didn’t see the iceberg in time and when they did they couldn’t change direction fast enough. The unsinkable ship sank, because they hadn’t evaluated the risks properly.

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A Christmas Miracle

Pae continues to grow stronger every day

My final blog this year is about a 15-year old boy called Pae, who was admitted to Middlemore Hospital with two life threatening conditions. Thanks to his supportive family and incredible teamwork by the staff looking after him, Pae defied all odds and continues to grow stronger every day. Pauline Owens, Stroke Nurse Specialist shares Pae’s story.

It was a rainy Friday evening when Pae, was brought into Emergency Care. Pae collapsed at home and was found by his grandad, unconscious and barely breathing. On arrival to Emergency Care, Pae was examined by senior doctors from Emergency, Medicine, ICU and Neurology, and following a series of tests was found to have a stroke on his brain stem and an unstable neck fracture.  Both of these life-threatening conditions left Pae unable to speak, or move his arms or legs – all while being aware of what was going on around him.   The fear was that Pae was not going to make it and if he did his quality of life would be extremely poor. He was to prove everyone wrong.

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Making Mental Health a priority

“There needs to be compassion and humanity – professionals need to think about the impact of their words and actions.” Mental Health Service user

shutterstock_84846199A wise man once told me told me, you can’t have health without mental health, and I’m a firm believer that we should prioritise mental health alongside physical health, and not treat them as separate issues.   In New Zealand, an estimated one in three people cope with a mental health condition at any one time – of that number, approximately one in five people in Counties Manukau seek support and care for their mental health needs. Many of these people also suffer from chronic health conditions such as diabetes or heart failure, and if you have a mental health condition, you are three times more likely to experience an avoidable hospital admission.

In terms of addictions, it is estimated that one in ten people use drugs and/or alcohol, with approximately 10,000 people in Counties experiencing harmful effects as a result, and in need of treatment.

We know the current mental health and addictions system is fragmented – that’s why the Mental Health Service at CM Health is embarking on a programme of work to transform the MH&A (Mental Health and Addiction) system. Through better integration and intervening early to keep people well, people using MH&A services will have an improved experience and better health outcomes. We will also continue to ensure a focus on supporting people with severe and enduring mental health needs.

I’m joined by Pete Watson, Clinical Director Mental Health and Tess Ahern, GM Mental Health to tell us about their approach.

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