Bendigo Health Blog

Keeping you up-to-date with health in central Victoria…

Leave a comment

The E-health Journey by guest blogger Bruce Winzar, Chief Information Officer

Many people will have seen the physical structure of the new $630 million Bendigo Hospital, which has risen up into the North Bendigo skyline. The fit-out of this state of the art facility continues behind the massive facade in readiness for a January 2017 opening.

What is not visible to the naked eye is the abundance of work happening within Bendigo Health to ready our staff for the transition into the new environment.

Among these internal components is the journey from paper-based records to electronic-based records, or ‘paper light’ as we like to phrase it. And with the latest IT infrastructure in the new facility it makes sense to take advantage of this opportunity.

This new ‘paper-light’ direction will reduce storage for paper records and begin the trend of minimising paper usage throughout the Bendigo Health clinical community.

Our transition to an electronic record will evolve in two stages and initially just focus on our acute hospital services.

In the first stage, we will implement a Digital Medical Record (DMR) using a software package from Vitro software. This will provide clinicians involved in your care with a single electronic portal where they can access a variety of patient information including, medical history, test results and forms. Staff training is well underway and pilot testing is about to begin in a selected area. Once the pilot is complete and assessed, we will continue to roll the system out to other clinical areas.

The second stage will be the deployment of the Electronic Medical Record (EMR) using a product from InterSystems called TrakCare. This will provide a whole of hospital integrated clinical information system. Additional functionality such as electronic ordering, decision support, closed-loop medication management and specialist modules will be incorporated under this system and, of course, will integrate with the DMR.

Once implemented throughout Bendigo Health, the ultimate outcome of the EMR is to essentially provide our clinicians with a ‘one stop shop’ where they can securely access up-to-date information about their patients.

Sounds pretty straight forward in its simplicity doesn’t it? It’s not. DMR and EMR technology is a complex beast, but done well and done right, it has huge benefits for our patients and their families and our staff.

Among these are improved communication between patient and clinician, the reduction of duplicated information and simplified workflows.

An example of this? In the new hospital, a clinician involved in your care will be able to sit at your bedside with an electronic device and discuss things like results, medications, future treatment and/or rehabilitation.

As we learn and adapt to this new way of working, we expect it will significantly enhance the ability of our staff to deliver world-class healthcare.

That’s good news for our patients – something we all want to see.

Leave a comment

Putting the Healthy Communities vision into action

By guest blogger, Liz Hamilton, Executive Director of Healthy Communities and Continuing Care at Bendigo Health.

2016 has begun and so many of you will have resolved to be healthier this year; perhaps to exercise and lose weight. Each year the media rolls out stories about New Year’s resolutions and how hard they can be to keep. But being healthier is a worthy goal so don’t be disheartened. I encourage you to be realistic and look at making some small and sustainable changes to improve your overall health. Little things such as swapping soft drink for water or committing to do take the stairs instead of the lift can make a big difference and you will feel better for it both now and in the future.

Back in 2013 Bendigo Health made a very public commitment to improve the health of our community in our Strategic Plan, Healthy Communities and World Class healthcare. The two concepts go hand in hand, you cannot be world class if you do not look at a patient holistically and work with them to encourage healthy choices and  to take responsibility for their long term health.

Taking a leadership role in our region is something that has been embraced throughout our staffing group and I think that is partly because our staff often look after people who are suffering from the effects of poor lifestyle choices. You just have to look at some basics facts about our patient cohort at Bendigo Health to know that preventable lifestyle diseases are a big challenge for our region.

In our Medical Unit alone, 37% of patients are smokers compared to the smoking rate of the broader community of 18-19%. Sadly, around 13% of our new mums keep smoking throughout their pregnancies, this is higher than the State average despite the risks to their babies and themselves. Partner smoking rates are over 30%. This is an area we plan to focus on in coming months. It is also an area of influence that delivers measurable outcomes so we can track our impact.

Another important measure of wellbeing is a person’s weight. Analysing the weight of the patients who are attending appointments in our specialist outpatient clinics, 70% are overweight or obese and 20% are classified as bariatric. If we do not take action as a community we will face an increasing burden of chronic disease that we cannot meet.

When our CEO asked me to take the lead in the healthy communities space I jumped at the chance because this is an area of personal interest for me. I hope my passion for this priority is infectious and I feel privileged to be in a position to drive positive changes that impact people in very significant ways, both within our staffing group and the Loddon Mallee community.

I believe in leaders walking the talk. I am a long distance runner and am very proud to have completed more than 50 half marathons. I also watch what I eat and make an effort to stay in a healthy weight range. It was not always the case for me, I grew up in a family where healthy food was not the first choice and as a result I was overweight as a child, however once I entered my late teens I made a conscious choice to be healthy and active. This has rubbed off on my children and I know that living healthily is a conscious choice and one which can be challenging in today’s society. Bendigo alone has four McDonalds, four KFC outlets and a myriad of other fast food outlets. When unhealthy choices are so convenient it can be hard to convince people to prepare meals from fresh ingredients. However, we are privileged to live in such a great City with walking or cycling tracks, swimming pools, parks and clean air – a great environment to spend time in.

As a major health provider we have the chance to influence people’s choices and to talk to them about their long term health. The annual ‘most trusted professions’ survey conducted by Roy Morgan consistently finds that Nurses are seen as the most ethical and honest profession with Doctors and Pharmacists also featuring in the top 10. When patients trust their health care team they are more likely to listen to them. We are trying to capture this by encouraging our staff to talk to their patients about their lifestyle choices whilst they are receiving care. We have rolled out a project to support patients to be Smokefree across 13 wards or services with a further 8 earmarked for roll out in the coming months. This project supports patients and clients of Bendigo Health who are current smokers to manage their nicotine withdrawal whilst they are an inpatient and, if they would like, support them to reduce or cease smoking. Recent statistics showed that of the 118 referrals to the program, 32 patients indicated post discharge that they have reduced or quit. Just as encouraging is the number of staff I have heard about who have quit smoking as a result of our focus on healthy communities.

We have established two health promotion committees to drive our vision of a healthy community, one for patients and one for staff and it has been wonderful to see how enthusiastically our staff have embraced this initiative. Recently, our volunteers formed a walking group to provide social interaction and exercise and a number of teams have commenced walking meetings. The internal menu has been revised to provide healthy options for catering and we recently trialled a free fruit offer for staff who purchase their lunch in the cafeteria.

Our residential care facilities have also embraced the concept with attractive walking paths and gardens for residents to enjoy as well as programs to assess smoking. Our dental services have a range of programs to encourage healthy behaviours throughout our lifetimes, from preschool to adulthood. One of the strong messages they promote is the importance of drinking water over sugary drinks. With the prevalence of overweight and obesity steadily rising in Australia, switching to water is a simple change many of us can make that will have an immediate impact on our health.

Australia has one of the best health systems in the world but we will have a crisis on our hands if we cannot change behaviours now. This is all of our responsibility. To have meaningful impact we need a collective approach. Bendigo Health is taking a lead in our community to partner with health providers, schools and businesses in order to deliver measurable outcomes. I encourage you to do the same.


Leave a comment

Building a High Performing Workforce by guest blogger Andrea Noonan.

The following post was contributed by Andrea Noonan, Bendigo Health Executive Director of People and Culture.

For nearly a decade, Bendigo Health has had a focus on building a high performing workforce.  I have been with Bendigo Health for most of that journey and have felt privileged to be able to support our staff as we work jointly toward an exciting new future.

That vision gained momentum with the construction of the Monash University School of Rural Health in 2010, followed by the La Trobe Rural Nursing School in 2013.  These developments provided students with critical pathways to learn and provided Bendigo Health the opportunity to work collaboratively with these organisations and invest in our own future workforce.

Turning our workforce attention inwards, we found ourselves wanting in a number of important people-management areas.  A staff engagement survey revealed our shortfalls and as a result, our Staff Development Program was created. This initial survey has also provided a baseline against which to measure the success of any initiatives we identified.  Our focus for improvement went to supporting our middle managers, the staffing group who are known to have the most influence over organisational success.

Research shows that highly skilled and motivated managers lead to an engaged and productive workforce.  This staffing group are diverse, with varying professional skills and experience.  We tapped into using their strengths to upskill their peers, while acknowledging that in healthcare, people are often promoted on merit, but often lack formal leadership training.  A management and leadership program was created called ‘Great Managers, Great Results’, comprising of several modules, many of which are run by members of the management group.

Uptake has been impressive and feedback in evaluation forms is consistently positive.  A broader staff development program has now also been implemented, with a strong focus on e-Learning modules, which allow staff to complete courses at a time and pace that suits them.  In addition, we have the Collaborative Health Education and Research Centre (CHERC) on site, producing a number of our e-Learning models, as well as a Psychiatric professional development unit.  Our approach is that a diverse staffing group such as ours needs a professional development model that inspires people with different learning needs, styles and skills.

Ongoing improvement is being provided to role clarity and embedding our performance management framework.  We reviewed corporate orientation and induction and tightened our e-Credentialing to ensure staff maintain their required skillset.

We have recently introduced leader rounding to seek information from individual team members.  Our rounding script helps managers learn about what is working well, where improvements can be made and to highlight resource issues.  The information gathered is used to identify solutions and importantly, to uncover our hidden heroes, who are worthy of special acknowledgement for work well done.  Managers have been provided with branded thank you cards to write messages of thanks and appreciation to their staff and colleagues – a simple, but effective way of providing positive feedback that can really make employees feel valued.

In addition, we have a values-based culture, developed by and meaningful for our people.  Our values are embedded into our business plans, discussed at annual staff reviews, displayed within staff areas and available on the intranet.  These values have been translated and developed at a department level into a set of ‘Values in Action’, which apply to individual work environments and team behaviours.

Now comes the collaborative task ahead of us, in preparing for the move into the new hospital and equipping our staff to handle the change as seamlessly as possible. It will take skills, resilience, support, training and most importantly, robust planning.  Those who know me know I love to cook, so to use a cooking analogy; we need good quality ingredients, technique, the right conditions, balance, proportion and timing to succeed.

Today, Bendigo Health employs almost 3500 staff and volunteers who are caring for our community.  We need to ensure they are equipped to be the best people for the job.

Our plan is to gradually move our staff and services to the new building and while it may seem like all of our effort is directed towards the new facility and the staff that will relocate, it is important that we consider our entire workforce and the impact that this transformational change will have on everyone.  At the forefront of our mind, is the inclusion and management of the staff and services that will not move into the new facilities. Many services, both clinical and non-clinical will remain in their current locations. We also have a number of regional locations and four residential care homes that are also not part of the move, including a 200 strong contingent of staff based in Havlin Street.

Visualising 2018, ‘success’ is an engaged workforce throughout the whole organisation. One without the impact of logistics and geographical locations. Where every team, both Bendigo based and regional feels included, motivated, confident and secure in the transformation of our service. If my direct colleagues and our managers have succeeded, our workforce will be one where all staff had confidence that their employer was caring and trustworthy.

What matters now is what we are doing to make that a reality.  We have a strong strategic plan, underpinned by a vision of Healthy Communities and World Class Healthcare.  This is a vision all of our team members can relate to, regardless of their role in the new hospital project.

In 2018, the Bendigo Hospital Project will be complete.  We will have a brand new acute facility with a co-located psychiatric service and our goal to be a major drawcard to attract and retain high calibre, quality staff.  Reflecting on our work to date, I believe we have a good track record of staff engagement and I am looking forward to building on this foundation.

The recipe is looking good, and I am confident the end result will please a wide range of appetites!

Andrea Noonan was appointed Executive Director of People and Culture in 2009, bringing more than 20 years’ experience to the role. Andrea has extensive experience in relation to improving processes within the human resources environment and sound occupational health and safety knowledge. During her career, Andrea has worked on a number of significant change management programs in large corporations, incorporating all aspects of human resources management, including industrial relations.

Leave a comment

Responsible, respective fundraising at Bendigo Health, authored by guest blogger Jane Anderson

The following post was contributed by Jane Anderson, Director of the Bendigo Health Foundation

Being the Director of the Foundation is a very privileged role, every day I meet people who are generous and community minded. People with very personal reasons for supporting Bendigo Health and people with amazing stories to share. This goes for our staff as well as they often also donate their time, money or expertise to help us make Bendigo Health great.

I grew up in a small town in regional Victoria and my parents were community minded, they were very involved in a capital appeal for our local health service and to this day, whenever I walk through the doors of that hospital and see my parents name of the donor board I feel that I have a right to be there.

I hope the work my team and I do gives members of our community the chance to experience that feeling of belonging and pride in their hospital.

Here in Australia we truly are the lucky country. No matter who you are you can access health care and here in Bendigo the standard and quality of care is as good as anywhere you go. Our staff are passionate about what they do and they live in the community they serve which can make for a very special connection.

Bendigo Health is an integral part of our community, we provide services that span the entire lifecycle and we are always here when we are needed, thanks to the generosity of our taxpayer funded health system.

Government is responsible for funding of healthcare in Australia and they have made a considerable investment in Bendigo with the new hospital currently under construction. But there is not an endless bucket of money and so resources have to be carefully allocated. The Foundation can make a difference in funding the important extras by allocating donations and the money we raise by hosting events.

Giving to us allows the community to have a say in what is important to them. To influence the services that are available locally and to fund equipment that provides access to world class health care close to where they live

Our staff are working towards a vision of Healthy Communities and World class Healthcare and I believe it is vital that the Foundation also supports this strategic vision. We do not raise money for the sake of it, we host events and support causes such as Dry July that inspire health and we use the funds to buy equipment that helps our staff to offer world class services.

Each year the Bendigo Health Foundation raises over $800,000 for Bendigo Health and this is spent across our services, allowing our community to have a say in where investments are made. We are very fortunate to live in a region where people are generous and every donation is gratefully received. Whether it is $10 given by a grateful family or a bequest of $1 million to provide an ongoing legacy, we are thankful.

Our funds come from a variety of sources, sometimes people hold events themselves to raise funds for an area they are passionate about such as the group of men who completed a bike ride last year and donated money to Maternity Services. Or our nine auxiliaries who work tirelessly throughout the year holding stalls and raffles to raise funds for the areas they support such as palliative care.

We also enjoy the support of numerous local businesses who want to give back to the community that supports them.

The work of the Foundation is overseen by a committed board of community members, all of whom give their time and expertise. They assist us with our strategic planning and they are hands on and can be found on the day of the Fun Run in their exercise equipment moving barriers, taking photographs and jumping in to help wherever they are needed.

Allocation of funds is undertaken carefully and overseen by our three trustees who play a governance role. It is their job to approve our business plan and they are responsible for protecting the investment made by our donors.

The world is changing and the way people give is evolving too. One of our most successful fundraisers is our annual Bendigo Bank Fun Run. We attracted almost 3000 participants last year and with the addition of a half marathon this year we are hoping that number will grow. Dry July a national online fundraiser has enabled Bendigo Health supporters wherever they are to support our cancer services to the tune of $160,000 over the last two years. We need to adapt and to encourage our supporters to give in a way that works for them.

We are finding people are just as willing to give as they have ever been. These days they might press a donate now button on a website rather than sending in a cheque, or offer to hold a function to be sponsored to undertake a challenge such as the Kokoda Track.

No matter how you show your support, please know that we are grateful for all of it, every contribution makes Bendigo Health that bit better and our whole community benefits.

Leave a comment

The Bendigo Health e-health journey to ‘world class’. Author Bruce Winzar

Technology changes every day, new knowledge is gained and new possibilities created by advancements made in research laboratories around the world. This excites me. I love going to conferences and trade shows and seeing what is happening in the world of technology, most especially in the health care field.

In mid -May an article was published about the use of nano technology to create a bionic brain and the future implications of this discovery for people who suffer acquired brain injury. Who knows where we will be in ten years?

Business is being transformed and our experiences as customers, for example:

AirBNB is the world’s largest accommodation or “lodging” company – yet it owns no real estate

UBER is the world’s largest taxi company – yet it owns no vehicles

Harnessing my excitement and enthusiasm for these new technologies and possibilities can be challenging when you work in public health, but I am fortunate enough to work for a health service which is embracing the future and investing in ICT infrastructure.

The whole of Bendigo is excited about the new hospital currently being constructed across the road and the executive team are turning their attention to the change management and transition planning involved to move our staff and systems into the new facilities.

One of the biggest components of change will be in the ICT space. Our world class facility will be equipped with a range of technologies and both staff and patients will benefit. The jewel in the crown is an Electronic Medical Record (EMR).

Determined to make our new facility world class in every way, Bendigo Health made the case for a paper light environment. The first big achievement was securing funding from the State Government for an EMR. After a detailed planning process which included consulting closely with our clinical staff and using their input, as well as devoting some resources to researching best practice around the world, we determined the vision for ICT in the new build.

After going through the proper governance process, we released our tender documents last year. The resulting bids were impressive with great products offered to us and we were thrilled to see the value that could be delivered within our budget. After a robust evaluation process we are now in Best and Final Offer stage with two vendors and hope to finalise contract negotiations by the end of September 2015.

On day one of working in the new facility, less than two years from now, we will have many new ICT technologies and enablers for example: a sophisticated new nurse call system, self check-in for patients in specialist clinics and a paper light environment with limited storage. Most striking will be the environment itself. Quiet, flooded with natural light and complemented by the colours of the Loddon Mallee region, patients will find moving around the building easy through intuitive way finding.

Behind the scenes our staff will be using different systems and ways of working from the ones they are working with today so there is a detailed transition process we need to go through which includes staggering adoption of new technologies and training for working in this new environment. We all realise we have a big task ahead to get ready for day one and that implementing an EMR is just one of many new systems our staff will need to learn.

With this in mind the Bendigo Health executive team decided that our best approach to a successful EMR implementation was to start with a DMR- a Digital Medical Record. This will take us from paper based medical records to a paper light environment and can then be rolled into an EMR after we move. Stepping out the transition from paper based medical records allows staff time to transition to a paper light environment before they use the full range of tools an EMR will offer.

In late April we signed a contract with Slainte Healthcare to deliver a DMR by mid next year. This system will include scanned medical records, forms, workflow and integration with many current systems. In the DMR environment, our clinicians will be able to view patient records from any device via a single portal. To minimise the impact of change on our clinical staff the system will be designed to mimic the appearance and layout of Bendigo Health’s existing forms and charts. This guarantees familiarity for our staff and enables a quick clinical adoption of our DMR. Clinical adoption is essential for success. In these projects it is rarely the product that determines the success of the project, it is the change management process, clinical engagement, the training and the willingness of the staff to learn. That is why we are working with our clinical staff and appointed both a Chief Nursing Information Officer and a Chief Medical Information Officer to the project team.

Excited as we are about the DMR, it is the longer term realisation of an EMR that really fires me up. Our EMR will deliver quantifiable benefits to Bendigo Health in the fields of patient safety, ease of clinical communication, reduction of medication errors, improved coding and real time location of assets, to name just a few.

Excellence in patient safety is the hallmark of a great health care system. No one wants to go to hospital and be the person who suffers from a medication error or has a fall or acquires an infection. Policies and procedures go a long way towards reducing the risk of this happening but this relies on staff abiding by them. Our EMR will have inbuilt checks and balances as well as clinical decision support which will have a positive impact on all these areas of risk.

For example, pharmacists will no longer be interpreting the handwriting of doctors, they will receive scripts in real time and the software will have the ability to advise clinicians of any potential dosage issues or contra-indications with other medications currently being taken by the patient.

Being paper light means there will be no chance of patient records being lost or parts of a record being separated from the master file. This also has implications for the Health Information team, currently Bendigo Health conducts regular culling of old files and archives files to storage for the legislated period. An EMR removes this need.

Staff will gain back valuable time currently spent searching for equipment with major assets tagged for ease of identification and location funding. Test results will be delivered to the patient record in real time and available on the patient portal.

It will also deliver financial benefits. Better record keeping will allow Bendigo Health to capture all the work that is being done by our clinical teams and be appropriately funded. The system will reduce the need for unnecessary tests. Order sets will be programmed in by profile or individual and generate a hierarchy chain for or junior doctors, allowing them to order some tests but seek advice and sign off from more senior doctors for other tests. This will reduce the likelihood of junior doctors ordering pathology or radiology that a more experienced physician may not require.

But what does this mean for patients? They will walk into our new hospital and the first thing they will notice is the ease of wayfinding. This will have been made easier by the information sent to them prior to their appointment or planned admission which would outline where to go. For those patients who have specialist appointments they will be able to scan a bar code on their appointment letter at a self check-in station and request an SMS be sent when it is their turn to be seen.

Once the EMR is embedded our patients will have access to a patient portal from their own device or home PC where they will be able to access test results and make or change appointments. The systems have the ability to allow access to some areas of the patient file to a carer and the levels of privacy can be changed according to the needs of the patient.

We will have standardised systems in place and there is a potential in the future for connections between regional providers. Our EMR can be rolled out to other providers in the Loddon Mallee if they have the capacity to implement it.

Tele-health will be expanded and it is my goal that this occurs sooner rather than later, allowing more medical services to be delivered to the patient rather than expecting them to present to us. I want to see patient support available in the patient portal with rehabilitation programs as apps allowing patients to lead their own recovery between appointments and to send their physicians information in real time such as images of wounds that may have changed. The possibilities are endless, if only the bucket of money was too!

It is a brave new world for many of our clinicians but once they start working within these systems with all the efficiencies they can offer I expect they will start seeking more from ICT. I certainly hope so because my vision for world class ICT at Bendigo Health is only just beginning to be realised.


Author Bruce Winzar, Executive Director ICT at Bendigo Health



Leave a comment

What does world class nursing and midwifery look like? Bendigo Health’s journey to embed a best practice Model of Care by Peter Faulkner, Executive Director of Nursing

As the Executive Director of Nursing at Bendigo Health I have the privilege of leading and working with our 1300 strong nursing and midwifery workforce. Through my own practice experience, I understand the demands our nursing staff face and the importance of their role in our patients care and their experience of the care provided at Bendigo Health.

Anyone who has ever been a patient knows that most of the care you receive comes from the nursing team. They are the ones who provide your medication, take your temperature and blood pressure and check in with their patients regularly to monitor their personal comfort, symptoms and recovery.

Nursing is a demanding profession and a vital one. How nurses and midwives deliver care shapes the patient experience and has a direct, measurable, impact on patient outcomes in areas such as falls and pressure wounds.

Knowing this, the Bendigo Health nursing executive made the decision back in 2011 to choose a nursing and midwifery model of care which would provide best practice, world class healthcare, for patients whilst empowering our workforce and enhancing their working day.

Here at Bendigo Health we have a vision of Healthy Communities and World Class healthcare. A significant change that will help us on our journey to world class will be the opening of our brand new state-of-the-art hospital.

The new facility boasts world class design principles which will change the way we work. It is a green building which provides a tranquil environment for patients with access to natural light throughout and a high proportion of private rooms with ensuites.

The entire leadership team agrees that whilst the new hospital will enable Bendigo Health to provide world class care, the building alone is not the answer. Our work practices, systems and processes all need to be world class as well. Developing and implementing a new nursing and midwifery model of care is an essential piece of the puzzle.

The process for developing, defining and embedding a best practice model for nursing and midwifery began back in 2011 when a group of senior nurses, nurse educators and our nursing executive undertook a number of workshops and commissioned a literature review.

NSW Professor of Nursing, Christine Duffield, was invited to join the group for the initial stages of the project. Professor Duffield shared her research findings into the impact of nursing on quality outcomes for patients, her insights cemented our view that a well-designed model of care does lead to improved patient care.

Our objectives for the new model included:

  • Having a positive impact on nursing and midwifery sensitive indicators such as falls and pressure incidents
  • Improving communication between patients and their nursing team
  • Reducing adverse events for our patients
  • Support the professionalism of our nursing and midwifery workforce
  •  Adoption of a consistent approach across the health service
  • Improve job satisfaction

We wanted a model which was practical and put patients first but still worked for our staff. We wanted our model to be world class, safe and sustainable. This work led us to the Studer model and whilst our focus was on nursing and midwifery the model is designed to be adopted throughout health care providers across both clinical and non-clinical workforces. After looking at all the benefits of the model we decided to explore adopting the model organisation wide. Before a decision could be made we undertook a robust consumer consultation and agreed to adopt Studer throughout Bendigo Health.

My colleagues and I are taking the approach that the Studer model is a framework, supported by a range of sensible tools, which allows some localisation and situational relevance to be applied within that framework- it is not a one size fits all approach.

Studer is made up of a number of tools which are adopted in a particular, prescribed, order. This begins the journey with the application of the foundation actions that are applied organisation-wide. It is not until this has been completed that the clinical tools are rolled out. The decision to apply the model throughout the health service did cause some frustration for the nursing and midwifery staffing groups because this led to a delay of applying what we call the ‘patient bundle’.

I am confident that 2015 will see us progress the patient bundle, the first steps will be to focus on measuring and monitoring the things that are important and this the Nursing and Midwifery context this means indicators that are sensitive to the intervention of nurses and midwives; indicators such as falls, pressure injuries, failure to rescue deteriorating patients, medication administration errors and hospital acquired infections. This work will be supported by routine patient rounding for improvement in these indicators. For example, we know that many patient falls in hospitals are a result of patients trying to get to the toilet without assistance, we also know that routine structured nurse rounding reduces these incidents. While we currently capture and report some of this information at the organisational level, we need to make the data available at the unit level to support staff in owning the information and being able to monitor their outcomes on these indicators.

As an old school practising nurse myself I understand for many of our nursing and midwifery staff describe this as ‘back to the future’ where everything old is new again; health does seem to move in cycles and I see nothing wrong with embracing lapsed practices that resulted in excellent patient care. Evidence shows hourly patient rounding works and has a positive impact on these nurse sensitive indicators.

When a patient knows their nurse is coming back regularly and checking on them they are more likely to wait for nursing assistance. A patient who knows their nurse by name and has their procedure explained to them feels cared for and in turn our nurses are given permission to care.

I expect this to be embraced by our staff, we already enjoy a patient centred culture here at Bendigo Health and I get feedback now from patients that our nurses communicate well and this model reinforces what should be good nursing practice.

The new Hospital environment is going to offer a great deal of support to these changes in practice with such things as a state of the art Nurse Call system. I am also very aware of the many demands that are placed on our staff in relation to planning for the new Hospital, working through the complexities of clinical equipment for the new environment, the Digital Medical Record and a lot of tasks in front of us to commission and move into the new facility. We are endeavouring to link the ongoing Studer work with our activities associated with this major project to ensure are staff are well supported over the demanding period ahead and that our continuous improvement is directly tied to our continuous journey toward world class healthcare.

We are a public health service experiencing growth in demand year on year so we are not making these changes to attract more patients, we are making these changes for the staff and patients we already have. Bendigo and the surrounding district deserve world class care and staff feel better about their jobs when they know they have given their best and made a difference to their patients. People don’t choose nursing as a career for the money, they usually have a very personal story to tell about why they became a nurse and we want them to fulfil that dream.

I am looking forward to watching the impact of these changes unfold. Any improvements in safety, quality and patient outcomes will make this change successful for both our staff and our patients.

Leave a comment

The importance of consumer feedback. By Aileen Berry

It is confronting to find yourself in the emergency department of a hospital at eight on a Saturday morning, gripped by pain, worried something serious is wrong with you, equally nervous that it is something minor and you are overreacting.

As a hospital board member for more than 10 years, I am usually comfortable being inside a hospital. But on that Saturday morning, I was simply a Bendigo Health ED patient, feeling very unwell and looking for the best in medical care.

Several hours later, minus an angry appendix and safely tucked up in my bed in the hospital’s surgical ward, I had become a bona fide hospital consumer.

In the four months since, I have been able to speak from experience about the care I received – from the emergency department, to medical imaging, to the operating theatre, to a shared ward. No one knew I was a member of the hospital board; no one knew of my wider background – I was simply a patient who was given effective treatment, gentle compassion and respectful courtesy over a two-night stay.

My experience was a good one – caring staff, prompt diagnosis and treatment, a resolution of my health issue, and a quick return home. As a board member, it is my hope that every patient at Bendigo Health has a similar positive experience or, if not, that they let us know how their time with us could have been better.

The very best of hospitals always find ways to improve the care they provide to patients and their families. It takes a cooperative dialogue between consumers and health professionals to take a hospital like ours from good to great, and to achieve recognition as a world-class provider of healthcare.

At Bendigo Health, we strive for continuous improvement not just in care and treatment, but also in the process of providing that care and treatment. Integral to that process is the input of our community.

The founders of the Bendigo Gold District Hospital in 1853 would be astonished to see their legacy today – interestingly, the initiative to build a hospital in the gold fields came from a public meeting of community members, not government.

Yet for too long in our history, hospitals were the province of the professionals and patients were seen but not really heard. Today, there is an absolute recognition that the best medical care can only be provided hand in hand with patients, their loved ones and the wider community.

So how do consumers become involved with hospitals in a meaningful way?

State Government legislation requires that all hospitals create a Community Advisory Committee (CAC), made up of consumers, carers and wider community representatives.

At Bendigo Health, our CAC is the “peak” community group. Meeting formally every two months and informally every other month, the CAC is made up of a group of thoughtful and engaged individuals, with a range of interests and life experiences.

Women and men, different life stages, patients and non-patients – there is no “standard” member. Some came to the Committee by answering a newspaper advertisement; others came via personal experiences; others still via community programs.

They share a passion for public health and a willingness to commit both time and effort to a vital community sector. Bendigo Health’s CAC today is a vibrant, confident group of people, who are actively supported by the hospital’s executive and clinicians.

We encourage and act on their observations and questioning on issues as diverse as advanced care planning and disability access, or their suggestions for improvements in the prototype rooms for each department in the new Bendigo Hospital.

One of our Community Advisory Committee members has taken part in the interactive tendering process for the Bendigo Hospital’s new Electronic Medical Record, another spoke of her experiences as a CAC member at the 2014 Annual General Meeting, while several were actively engaged in the official hospital re-accreditation process last year.   Many also serve on more specific interest committees, such as health promotion, psychiatric services, quality and Breastscreen, and report to the regular CAC meetings on important issues being discussed.

Through these and other forums, each CAC member has the opportunity to effect change at any level of the hospital

In nine years serving as a board member at the Royal Women’s Hospital in Melbourne, I saw the long-term value of effective and ongoing community input on patient treatment, effective communications and specific processes. So I was delighted to join our Community Advisory Committee 18 months ago, when I was appointed to the Bendigo Health board.

Successful community engagement needs not just to occur; it needs to be embedded in the operations and mindset of a hospital.   The consumer role must be respected, supported and acted on by a hospital’s executive and clinicians alike. At Bendigo Health, community engagement occurs at almost every level of the organisation.

From the welcoming volunteers who greet patients and visitors at the front doors, to the patients who complete detailed surveys on their treatment, to the hardworking individuals who provide feedback and ideas to the executive and the Board through the CAC and other important committees – the level of community commitment is heart-warming.

Of course, that does not surprise me – like so many who have “tree-changed” from Melbourne to Bendigo, I recognise that our wonderful region is characterised by its active and engaged populace. Whether it is supporting local hospitals and schools, being active in the CFA or SES, or just keeping a friendly eye or ear out for the neighbours, we appreciate the value of being part of a close-knit community.

Hospitals today are characterised by their vision and values and by the high levels of training and assessment provided in every department. Our community members are also supported and encouraged in their work with the hospital through extensive induction sessions, training in specific skills, attending relevant conferences and taking part in other networking events.

With the aging of our population and enormous technological advances in medical care, there has never before been such pressure on health funding. Every year, hospitals have to find better ways to deliver enhanced care within a challenging budget framework.   Bendigo Health has an internal quality framework that enhances many of our systems, but often it is the common sense suggestions that come from our community that help change our practices or processes.

So if you have something to say, we encourage you to “Tell Us About Your Experience” by contacting our Patient Feedback Coordinator on 5454 9079, or consider taking a more active role and join our Consumer Register. The Bendigo Health Consumer Register is a pool of patients, carers and relatives, and consumers of the hospital services, who share their experiences and ideas for improvement of our hospital services. Members of the Register can participate in many ways, including contributing to working groups/committees/focus groups, assisting with surveys and interviews, providing feedback on information for consumers, attending community events and forums, etc. Being part of the register is an opportunity to improve the quality, safety and accessibility of our health service. For further information, please contact the Consumer Participation Support Officer (Quality @ BH): Nina Hakamies, tel. 5454 9078,

We are in an exciting stage of the Bendigo Health’s long and distinguished history, part way through the construction of the new Bendigo Hospital. If you haven’t seen our building rising on the city’s skyline, make sure you take a detour and do so! In the meantime, we look forward to hearing your voice at Bendigo Health.

Contributed by Aileen Berry. Ms Berry is a journalist and Corporate Communications Manager for the Herald and Weekly Times Ltd in Melbourne. She was appointed to the Board of Bendigo Health in October 2013. Ms Berry holds the following Bendigo Health committee memberships:

Member- Community Advisory

Member- Quality Care Council

Member- Medical Advisory

Member- Visiting