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Patients let us know what makes a difference in their healthcare

Waikato DHB’s Patient Experience Week goes from 28 May 2018 to 1 June 2018 based off the success of last year’s week.

Joining in international celebrations, Patient Experience Week provides the opportunity to acknowledge and reflect on the challenges Waikato district patients and service users face. It’s also a great way to celebrate just some of the many ways – no matter how big or small – that staff make a difference to anybody’s healthcare experience.

Read this year’s experiences as shared by people who have needed healthcare from various services:

Fiona Falwasser & her sister Joanna on the Women’s Health Service and High Dependency Unit

I never felt like I was just a number; they really cared about me and what I was going through.

Fiona and her baby girl Sophie

Fiona and her baby girl Sophie

I gave birth to my baby girl Sophie in Huntly and then had some other issues including complications with bleeding so I was taken to Waikato Hospital by ambulance. Once I got there everything was so quick and all the staff were communicating with my midwife and with me about what was happening which was so good because when you’re going through that and need surgery it’s pretty scary.

I can’t remember the name of everyone, but I remember when I was in the High Dependency Unit, I had a nurse named Jenny who was really nice and funny. She sat with me and made sure I was ok and told me about her daughter’s wedding; it was comforting and it made me forget what I was going through a little bit. It was nice getting to know staff, I actually had fun.

This is my second baby and I felt really comfortable using Waikato Hospital’s Women’s Health Service. I never felt like I was just a number; they really cared about me and what I was going through.

The staff in the Postnatal Ward were really understanding and they encouraged me to take my time with everything. All the staff were really nice, even the people who brought in my lunch.

Fiona’s sister, Joanna: Tracey, the charge nurse/midwife manager was awesome. So was Fiona’s nurse Kristy who helped her with getting baby to latch. All of them were amazing.

Believe it or not, we were laughing because I stayed with her the entire time pretty much and they just supported us when we needed it. The doctors did an amazing job explaining everything and I’m so thankful they could see the seriousness of the situation. I was never left questioning anything. And also Fiona’s midwife was amazing and stayed with her the whole time until she woke up. As a whānau we were so grateful.

I will forever be grateful to the doctors and staff of Waikato Hospital for saving my sister’s life.

Jack Auld on the Pain Team and Oncology Service

I wouldn’t be as mentally strong now without my clinical psychologist; there’s just no way.

Jack Auld

Jack Auld

In 2008, I was told that I had a brain tumour and had to have an operation, and I’ve had complications since then including a diagnosis of Guillain-Barrè in 2015. This involves the nervous system shutting down so that was really hard because I couldn’t walk, swallow food or see.

I’m doing better than I was but I still have to manage it. So there’s been a lot going on involving different Waikato District Health Board services that help me.

Today, I’m still battling my cancer and Guillain Barrè and just trying to cope. But through everything, the help of my clinical psychologist Sandhya has really stood out to me. She works with the pain team and I’ve been seeing her for just over two years. I’m the sort of person that just says ‘she’ll be right’ but now I will actually accept help.

From about the third session I started feeling better and

we came up with mental strategies to deal with the big problems I’ve got. I wouldn’t be as mentally strong now without my clinical psychologist; there’s just no way. As well as having the support of my family, Sandhya’s been the biggest part of handling things. I have another brain operation coming up soon so seeing her has helped a lot and I’m really grateful.

I still see my nurse Lucy from Meade Day Care when I get infusions, one of them being for pain. She’s the best person you’ll ever meet; she just really cares and is like a mum. When she asks ‘how’s it going?’ – she really wants to know and she’ll sit with you and listen.

I also remember when I was going through radiation and working with the blue team. I’ll never forget the radiation therapists there. It was one of the hardest times of my life but they were just awesome, I really felt that they cared about me. They kept me motivated and kept me going and to push through the hard things.

It’s small things that have huge impacts and makes life worth living.

Nathan Naidu, REACH client

I started to take charge of my health and begancontrolling my diabetes with such good results.

Nathan Naidu

Nathan Naidu

I have diabetes and depression. Last year things became overwhelming. Then Work and Income put me in touch with REACH. I was sceptical, but desperate, so ready to clutch at straws.

When key worker and registered nurse Shirley talked to me about REACH it sounded unique. With my permission she came with me to my health appointments – the GP, the diabetic clinic and the eye clinic.

She asked lots of questions and for the first time I started to really understand what the doctors were saying, and what I could do to improve my health.

Shirley was my mentor, she was genuinely interested in me and met with me twice a week. I’d never had this kind of support before. I started to take charge of my health and began controlling my diabetes with such good results. I had more breath, more energy, more taste -it was a real breakthrough.

My depression meant I wasn’t paying attention to my relationships. I was missing out on my family and my daughter’s milestones. When I started prioritising my health, these things fell into place too. I started taking my daughter to the park, running after her and playing with her.

I saw her joy and it was enough to drive me on. Everyone noticed a difference in me. I stopped dwelling on things that brought me down, and learned how to deal with how I was feeling. Ian, living well coach, met with me every week and encouraged me to get back into gym work. It was hard, but the more I did it, the more I wanted to do.

Michelle, living well coach, took me for long walks in the park, and now I take my family out with me on these walks.

Shirley, Ian and Michelle were genuine. It wasn’t just a job for them, they were made for the job. They had real compassion. They still call me every now and then to see how I’m doing. It’s good to know I can go back to them if I need to.

REACH worked with me on all aspects of my life, health, work and my relationships with family. I am satisfied with my life now and am enjoying it on a daily basis.

REACH (Realising Employment through Activated Co-ordinated Health Care) is a 12 week personalised programme for people who are registered as job seekers and manage a health issue or disability to enable them to attain employment. Find out more at www.reachout.nz.

Nouha Achmar on the Oncology and Haematology service

Both Tracey and my haematologist Dr Goodman are great – I love those two people and what they did for me and my husband.

Dr Goodman and Tracey with Nouha

L/R: Dr Goodman and Tracey with Nouha

I found a lump on my neck in 2016 and my local doctor immediately referred me to Waikato Hospital where I had a biopsy and then had the lump removed. I was told that I had Hodgkin’s Lymphoma.

Tracey, the cancer nurse coordinator for lymphoma and myeloma, was there from beginning to end. She always made time for me, even if we weren’t scheduled to meet. I can never thank her enough for her support. Tracey also helped by connecting me with a psychologist and she organised the reimbursement of my travel costs which was just brilliant. She also put me in touch with the people who make wigs and organised for me to get a Medic Alert bracelet so she really thought of everything.

Both Tracey and my haematologist Dr Goodman are great – I love those two people and what they did for me and my husband. Just to have that point of contact and to know I wasn’t going through this journey alone meant so much and still does. Dr Goodman was absolutely wonderful and reminded me to stay positive. I’m also grateful to the nurses who helped me during my chemotherapy sessions because they also helped keep my spirits up.

Even when it’s over you live with the fear that the cancer might be back. I was always able to ring Tracey and tell her what I was worried about and she would get answers for me or put me in touch with Dr Goodman. My concerns were always taken seriously and I was made to feel important. I really felt the empathy that Tracey and Dr Goodman had. I’d walk into appointments with Dr Goodman with a million questions but always come out feeling reassured.

You’d never think how difficult and overwhelming going through something like this would be. My husband would always say ‘when life throws you lemons, make lemonade’ and we’ve done that. I’m so happy to be here today and just so grateful.


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