Rachel Malone, a nurse at Hauora Tairāwhiti’s mental health inpatient unit, is the latest receipient of the Health Quality & Safety Commission’s Open for Leadership Award.
Malone, of Te Aitanga a Mahaki, was nominated by Tairāwhiti District Health Board for her commitment to improving practice on the ward since she started there as a new graduate three years ago.
Acute Mental Health Service Manager Anne Prince says Malone was “extraordinary”, with fellow staff ready to try new things because of her “lovely gentle manner of bringing people along with her.
“She asks for feedback and listens to people. Rachel has become the “go-to person” when something needs to happen in the unit.”
This includes becoming the ward champion for sensory modulation and motivating the team to revamp the sensory room on the ward and promoting its use in the care and comfort of patients.
Malone had also joined the Ending Seclusion Group, that was working towards the goal of a seclusion-free Tairāwhiti in 2020 and had been instrumental in motivating other nurses to attend the group.
Prince said Malone had also motivated the team to meet audit requirements to provide evening activities for people on the ward.
“She examined each staff members ‘talents’ and came up with a list of appropriate activities which help alleviate boredom for patients on weekends and evenings,” says Prince.
“This has improved the patient experience especially for people who are on the ward for a while.
Malone had also taken on another quality project to improve the efficiency of staff handover. As a result of staff feedback, Rachel researched efficient solutions for handover and a three-month trial is about to take place “This has the potential to reduce errors and improve overall quality of care,” says Prince.
Malone said she was ‘quite shocked’ to receive the award. “We are all about teamwork and supporting others so to be singled out is quite overwhelming. I really value the experience and support of the team in our unit. I learn from them every day,” she says.
Prior to completing her graduate placement in Te Whare Awhiora, she says she didn’t see herself working in mental health. Now she cannot imagine working anywhere else.
“It has surprised me how much I love working here. We are here to advocate for our consumers. I love being able to make a difference and hopefully make their lives a little bit easier.”
She credits her own whānau for supporting her through her nursing training (at EIT Tairāwhiti).
“I decided in my late 20s to follow my inspiration – my mother, who was a nurse. While it wasn’t always easy to study with three small children, they kept me going,” said Malone. “I’m doing this for them and am so grateful to my partner Willie and my own parents who enabled me to get my degree.”
As an award recipient, Malone received a certificate, trophy and free attendance at an upcoming Commission event of her choice.