Emma Lett came to MidCentral District Health Board as a physiotherapy student from Otago University in 2013, and as she puts it ‘I’ve never left.’
Emma is the first of two District Health Board February award winners of the inaugural Health Quality and Safety Commission ‘Open for Leadership’ award. The awards recognise, celebrate and share the work of emerging healthcare leaders who have made a difference to patient care.
Emma, a rotational physiotherapist, celebrated her third anniversary working full time with MDHB in December.
She says she was surprised to be told about the award, and only found out when her ‘boss’ Allied Health executive director Gabrielle Scott took her aside to tell her the good news.
She thought the worst, and wondered what she had done wrong. Instead, Emma will receive a certificate and trophy and a free place on an upcoming HQSC event of her choice, for her quality improvement efforts.
Emma was nominated for the award because she was the lead allied health practitioner who developed the education material for the 2015 rollout of service accreditation within therapy services while working in the community physio team. She presented on the tool at various education sessions alongside the professional advisors.
Emma said it took a lot of meetings and discussions over about six months before the project got off the ground with the establishment of policies, procedures and training.
Service accreditation involves skill sharing between occupational therapy and physiotherapy staff working out in the community where either discipline can assess and provide each other’s simple (list) equipment.
For example, physios are now allowed to issue equipment like shower stools, and toilet frames, and occupational therapists are allowed to issue basic walking frames without having to first seek approval from the other discipline.
Emma said the project has meant patients needing the equipment can get it quicker and it is nice to know the patients are safer by getting it earlier than before. She said it had saved professional time, travelling, paperwork and visits, and consultation time.
Gabrielle said: “It has made a significant difference for the patients waiting for separate referrals to be actioned by each team. By using service accreditation, simple equipment can be assessed and organised for delivery at the first point of contact by clinical or assistant staff - ‘Better sooner more convenient.’
For the project rollout Emma credentialed therapy staff onto the service accreditation framework while educating them on equipment selection and provision. She remains the champion for the physiotherapy service on this, orientating and credentialing new clinical staff on service accreditation at MidCentral Health. She is also available for the occupation therapy team to credential their new staff on the selection and provision of physiotherapy equipment.
Gabrielle said: “She thrives on this aspect of her role, enjoying the quality process through to actualising the outcome in this example service accreditation.”
During the past 18 months of the project, she has also been the physios’ health and safety representative which entails regular meetings being fitted into her busy schedule.
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