Wairarapa DHB acknowledges it has a financial deficit but says that does not mean it should ignore its commitment to staff and their well-being. PHOTO/FILE

PAM GRAHAM
pam.graham@age.co.nz

Wairarapa DHB has spent $160,000 to hold two series of workshops to assess its values and create a vision for future healthcare, and a third series on leadership will be held in September.

The money has come from bequests for staff education and development.

The cost includes the services of Tim Keogh of UK-based consultancy April Strategy, as well as resourcing costs, stationary, room hire and survey hosting.

“Tim likes to say that his mission is to spread happiness in healthcare,” the DHB says. “We are seeing it happen, and it looks good.”

A happy, healthy workforce and work environment leads to improved quality care, the DHB says.

“We are confident that patients and their whanau will soon be reaping the benefits of the investment we are making.”

The DHB says it is seeking to co-design healthcare that is more equitable and that better supports a well Wairarapa, “and we are proud of our progress”.

In February seven In Our Shoes workshops involved more than 600 staff and community partners, and In Your Shoes listening workshops involved 45 patients and their whanau.

After the February workshops, April Strategy supported the DHB to distil people’s views.

Then last week 10 workshops were held for 400 staff to look at feedback from the February sessions, and co-design resources and solutions going forward.

In September there will be further workshops to focus on supporting excellent leadership.

“This is a long-term programme that needs the sustained input of all staff, not just our leaders, if we are to reach our aims as an organisation,” the DHB says.

April Strategy has been doing work in New Zealand for some time. In 2016 The Otago Daily Times reported Keogh’s fees and expenses totalled $152,784, including more than $15,500 for travel, accommodation and food for work for the Southern DHB.

Wairarapa DHB says April Strategy has now worked in many of the 20 national DHB’s as well as across numerous offshore healthcare organisations.

Keogh brings the benefit of the wider April Strategy team with him to enact purposeful local change, the DHB says.

People were keen to share their story about how they found their healthcare in the In Your Shoes workshops and it provided a unique opportunity for the DHB to learn and grow from their experience, the DHB says.

“We have delved deeper into things that our team had highlighted as key priorities; namely to design and describe our values, to create a future vision for local healthcare, to explore values-driven workforce development and recruitment, and how to address bullying.

“We have been working on a strategy that intends to help make our health system in Wairarapa an even better place to work, and to be cared for.”

Wairarapa DHB acknowledges it has a financial deficit but says that does not mean it should ignore its commitment to staff and their well-being.

“Our work with Tim Keogh has been achievable through this donated funding package, placing no additional stress on our tightly controlled budget.”

The educational fund is not available for use other than for training and development.

Wairarapa DHB began working with him last year when the DHB asked its employees to tell them about their work experiences and Keogh provided statistical analysis to help prioritise actions.

With 400 staff responding, the survey found pockets of poor behaviour that deflect from good work being done.

“Evidence tells us that increasing staff engagement in a happier workplace will improve patient outcomes, and the programme of work we are now undertaking is focused on doing just that,” the DHB says. “We are investing to improve our people’s health and well-being.”

Secondly, April Strategy hosted and reported a patient survey with almost 200 responses, which gave insight into how to improve the patient experience.

“We have collectively begun to develop a person-centred vision and a DHB culture that is based on shared values.

“We want to make it easy for our staff and all those that we care for to see and recognise good practice, and to speak up about poor behaviours.”

The DHB says it is value for money as with more than 1600 contact involvements so far, that dollar value equates to less than $100 per person reached.

“We are excited to be working with Lakeview School students, teachers and whanau this month at their Mahi Tahi, Kai Tahi evening and are looking forward to learning what good healthcare looks like to them, what they’d like to change, and what they want for their future. We will be using some of the new approaches Tim has introduced.

“Feedback from staff has been excellent. At the start of the work, we noted a level of negativity about the workplace and some cynicism – as can be expected with such a large workforce.

“However, as we have grown through the Vision and Values work, we are seeing a significant improvement in the workplace and the benefits are already being enjoyed and reported by staff and patients.”