Posted 9th Nov 2015

“Kia Ora. My name is Jeanette. Let’s talk.”

That is the message Hawke’s Bay District Health Board Consumer Engagement Manager Jeanette Rendle is imparting during National Patient Safety Week which began last Sunday and runs until Saturday, 7 November.

The week, a Health Quality & Safety Commission initiative, shines the spotlight on patient safety and ways it can be improved.

The theme “Let’s Talk” is about improving communication between health professionals and patients, and ensuring safe, quality care.

One of the key parts of the week is the phrase “Kia Ora my name is …”, and badges have been distributed to staff promoting this along with frontline staff wearing T-shirts to encourage conversation. Meanwhile consumers have been given the opportunity to tell the DHB what is important to them on a large whiteboard.

“Family/whānau is the common theme,” Jeanette said today as she strolled the corridors and wards of Hawke’s Bay Fallen Soldiers’ Memorial Hospital with CEO Kevin Snee.

“Which is in line with this week’s challenge to DHB staff to talk more with patients and their families/whānau about safety in health care.”

The idea came from terminally ill UK doctor Kate Granger, who noticed that while lots of people treated her not many took the time to introduce themselves or to let her know what they were going to do to her.

“We know from Kate and other patients that introducing yourself is much more than just exchanging names,” Jeanette says. “It’s about making a human connection and building trust. It sets the foundation for better communication about every aspect of care.

“Across the health system we believe that communicating with our patients, their families, visitors and with our colleagues is a great way to connect.

“We hope the name badges are a reminder of the importance of good communication, as well as showing patients their questions are welcomed.”

An airline-style patient safety card and video have also been launched this week, with the resources available to all New Zealand hospitals.

The information card has simple safety advice about preventing falls, blood clots, pressure injuries and infections. The video has similar information.

Associate Minister of Health Peter Dunne said: “The card and video will give patients more confidence and let them know what to expect during their stay in hospital. Doctors, nurses and other hospital staff work hard to ensure everyone in New Zealand receives safe, quality health care.

“For example, hospitals have introduced measures to prevent people from falling, getting infections or being given the wrong medicines, and programmes to make surgery as safe as possible.

“But there are also simple things patients can do to keep themselves safer, such as using a walking aid if they need one, doing simple leg and ankle exercises, washing their hands and talking to their doctor, nurse or pharmacists if they have any questions or concerns about their medicines.”