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Posted 30 Apr 2015 in Open for better care

Much has been happening within the consumer engagement agenda at Waikato District Health Board (DHB). The following snippets highlight just some of the work over recent months.

New consumer feedback and complaints policy
In January, we began to roll out a new consumer feedback and complaints policy. This sees a renewed focus on placing patients, service users and whānau at the centre of processes for feedback and complaints. It also emphasises that all communications with patients and service users contribute to their experience and should be underpinned by kindness and compassion. The policy sees the introduction of new feedback boxes and feedback cards throughout all patient and public areas, providing the opportunity to give short feedback closer to the point of care. Feedback can also be provided via the DHB website and over free-wi-fi in some areas of Waikato Hospital. Our policy roll-out has involved drop-in sessions and presentations to all service quality meetings. Since January, we have presented directly to upward of 600 staff. The use of the Cleveland Clinic’s ‘Empathy – the Human Connection’ throughout presentations has proven to be a thought-provoking tool.

Supporting the development of a national guide to consumer engagement for DHBs
The Health Quality & Safety Commission has been working with a group to put together a new guide for DHBs about consumer engagement: involving consumers, patients, family and whānau in their health care at all levels, from the waiting room to the boardroom. The group is made up of health providers and consumers, and includes myself and Denise Aitken from the Midland region. A series of consultation events around the guide, which looks set to be a useful resource, are taking place across the region.

Regional networking
In March, we held the first of what we hope will become regular regional network meetings for staff and consumers involved with consumer engagement work. Four staff members attended this informal and fruitful meeting at Rotorua Hospital. All agreed it was inspiring and motivating to share ideas and information about the successes and challenges in their areas. Moving forward, we plan to have quarterly meetings, mostly via video or telephone conference. If anyone is interested in getting involved, please contact me: Wendy Entwistle.

Improvement science project – flexible visiting for key support people
Three members of staff from quality and patient safety were fortunate to attend improvement science training at Ko Awatea late last year. As part of this programme, we initiated a project to review Waikato DHB’s current visiting policy, with a view to introducing more flexible visiting for key support people (as identified by the patient). With two consumers on our project team, and the views of patients and visitors sought throughout, along with those of staff, we are hoping to see some positive changes that will be more consumer-centred and welcoming. We are also hoping to see greater involvement of patients and key support people at ward rounds.

Patient stories at the board of clinical governance
April saw the continuing of our patient stories being heard at the board of clinical governance. Presentations by patients or whānau in person have provided valuable insights into their experiences of health care services, as well as opportunities for improvement.

Growing consumer roles
At Waikato, we are slowly starting to develop more consumer roles across the DHB. Particular areas where new roles are appearing at both a governance and service delivery level are within women’s health and child health, where there are consumer roles at a project board level, and on an experience-based co-design project.

Next steps…
We are currently updating a consumer engagement framework for the DHB, which will support improved engagement at all levels: individual, service delivery and governance.

We aim to develop a pool of consumers to partner with staff over specific areas of interest. This will support demand from a growing number of staff requests for consumer involvement.

We will continue to develop the necessary infrastructure to support consumer engagement across the DHB.

Wendy Entwistle
Consumer Engagement Facilitator