First in the Family

Every day I hear stories that remind me why I love my job.  This week I met an impressive young woman whose story I would like to share.

Around seven years ago we set up the ‘Grow Our Own’ workforce programme aimed at supporting young people, Maaori and Pacific in our area, to consider a career in health with us.

The programme received a massive kick-start through our relationship with The Tindall Foundation who provided an investment in the early years of over $3 million. Sir Stephen Tindall also played a critical role to help sponsor the programme through these early stages.  This investment provided that platform for James Cook High School and Tangaroa College to come on board and enabled the creation of the Health Science Academies.

The Academies provide extra support in Science, Maths, and English to prepare students to gain entry to tertiary study, including medical school, as well as direct contact with doctors, nurses, and other clinicians in the health field. They also enabled us to showcase practical examples of the kind of work we do at Counties Manukau Health every day.

The key was to help these young people gain the relevant NCEA qualification to get into the right kinds of tertiary programmes that would ultimately led to a path back to us, with a guaranteed job once they qualified.

We understand that not every student would end up working with us. The programme not only cultivates new ambitions about a career in the health sector, but it can also lead students to a range of careers that these subjects can offer.

The rationale underpinning it was pretty simple – if we grow a workforce that reflects our community, then we can improve how we respond to our community and better meet their healthcare needs.

We know that attracting and developing talent to the health sector is a competitive business. We draw together people regionally, nationally and internationally to meet our growing workforce demands.

We also felt that investing in these young people would have a far wider reach in the community, as well as having a positive impact on their families. And that ultimately, if we’re successful, we would enable them to become the next generation of healthcare leaders in our community.

From little things, big things grow. ‘Grow Our Own’ is now working across the region, has received funding from the Government, and has been examined by other sectors to see what they might be able to replicate in their own communities.

It was therefore a hugely satisfying moment when I was having a coffee in Ko Awatea, clearing my emails, when a young woman came up and introduced herself. Her name was Fonoifafo.  Fono was part of our first cohort in the Health Science Academy at Tangaroa College, and that process inspired her into studying nursing.

She is the first crop of young people to complete the programme, and the first in her family to be university educated.  She is driven to support children and work in our community, and has been placed with our Kidz First Public Health Nursing Team.  The day she introduced herself was the first part of her induction into Counties Manukau Health as part of our 2017 Graduate Nurse intake. Throughout her studies, she also kept connected with Counties Manukau Health through Ko Awatea’s Handle the Jandal youth-led campaign.

I don’t know who was more proud.

It was satisfying to see something go from concept, to implementation, and now to see it transforming lives as we envisaged.

We’re privileged to have supported Fono to achieve her dreams. And she in turn has helped us make Counties Manukau Health a place that not only provides excellent healthcare, but also transforms the lives of those who work here.

Part of the inspiration for ‘Grow Our Own’ was my own experience. Back in the United Kingdom, I grew up in a place that was every bit as challenging as parts of our community with low levels of tertiary education, and even lower paid jobs for those who lived there.

I was lucky because a couple of people helped me. I ended up being the first person in my family to go to university. This education helped me transform my life, shaped my ambitions, and enabled me to have the life that I have today.

I can’t repay the people who helped me enough for their belief in me, but hopefully I can pay it forward to others. So thank you Fono for helping me achieve my dreams too.

What a great way to start the New Year. Thank you again Fono, and welcome to Counties Manukau Health.

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Ask Me Anything

GeraintIn a previous blog I mentioned how hard it is to have a relationship with someone you don’t know and with over 6,500 staff working at CM Health, it’s a challenge to personally connect with each person who works here.  While social media is making it easier to reach people on a global scale,  I’d like to take a more personalised approach by introducing my latest initiative called “Ask Me Anything” (AMA). Just like the name implies the aim behind AMA is to create a channel where you can ask me anything, anytime, anywhere. This could range from light-hearted questions such as what’s my favourite TV programme (Game of Thrones) to important issues that are critical for you at work.  It’s about being transparent and upfront about the things that matter the most to you. I’ll do my very best to answer all of your questions and each month will share the most popular questions or themes in a short video blog.

Below are a few light-hearted questions and answers to get the ball rolling …

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Happy New Year

Happy New year and welcome back. I hope that you, like me have had a great break and are looking forward to the new challenges that this year will bring.

We reached some other very important decision points at the end of the year which we will build on this year. The pace of change will increase this year as we put some key initiatives in place – including the key areas of localities and community hubs, in particular redesigning integrated care and how we can improve our use of technology to modernise out-patient and referral practices.

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CM Health launches new values and strategic plan

Our new values
Our new values

Yesterday (10 September) CM Health launched its refreshed values and strategic plan, signaling a new and exciting era for our organisation. This work has been months in the planning with over 2000 people sharing their ideas as to how we can consistently be at our best for our patients, whaanau and families, and each other, and the choices we need to make to progress our goal to work together to achieve health equity.

While the conversations around our ‘Healthy Together’ strategy will continue (click here for our strategic plan), our new values: Kind, Valuing everyone, Together and Excellent, tell a story of how we can provide great care and a great experience at work.

So where does our story begin?

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Diversity Ball 2015: Viva La Vida – Live Your Life

Geraint and Buckwheat
Geraint and Buckwheat

On 8 August, we held our annual diversity ball, and it was wonderful to see over 700 people at the Langham Hotel in Auckland. It was a fantastic evening and a reminder of the vibrancy of our culture and the fun we have as an organisation. As I looked around the room, I was reminded of the many countries, cultures and backgrounds that make up Team Counties. It’s this diversity that is our strength and makes up the mosaic that is South Auckland and Counties Manukau.

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Recognising our hard working House Officers

Dr Neil Stewart
Dr Neil Stewart

Each month a House Officer is nominated by members of the clinical and wider multidisciplinary team for the prestigious title of ‘House Officer of the Month’.  It’s an award that has grown in popularity since it first started in 2011, bringing with it a sense of a ‘job well done’ for the doctors who are nominated.  Last month (May) Dr Neil Stewart received the Award, after being nominated by his colleagues during his General Medicine rotation on Tiitoki team.  Words like committed, hardworking, dedicated, professional and friendly were just some of the comments people shared.  One person said, “We need more doctors like him.”

So what does it take to be a House Officer in a busy hospital?  Neil shares his thoughts about why he decided to become a doctor and his passion for the work that he does.

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Kindness is a clinical intervention

Tim Keogh at Ko Awatea
Tim Keogh at Ko Awatea, CM Health

Values Week is underway and it’s been wonderful to see large numbers of staff, patients and whaanau take time out from busy jobs and lives to share what makes a good or bad day at work or a good or bad experience of care.

Today I’m joined by Tim Keogh, from April Strategy, who is facilitating our value workshops and sessions. Tim has a long history of helping organisations around the world reshape their values and has a passion for helping people to build positivity, skills and resilience to be the best they can be.

Tim talks to us about how the values sessions are going.

Continue reading “Kindness is a clinical intervention”