|News and media|
Nursing leader makes a difference
By Heather Chappell
Sue Hayward bustles into her office at Waikato Hospital with an air of urgency and focus.
Her office is tidy, which illustrates well that Hayward, Waikato District Health Board’s director of nursing and midwifery since 2008, as a well-organised professional.
She is full of optimism. Chief executive Craig Climo, Health Waikato chief operating officer Jan Adams and Hayward are just back from visiting surgical wards to assess progress with a new nursing initiative Releasing Time to Care: Productive Wards.
It is this optimistic outlook that got Hayward, 54, into one of the country’s top nursing jobs.
The mother of three and grandmother of one has juggled work, family and study since the 1970s when she embarked on a career she dreamed of doing as a child because she felt nurses made a difference to patients and families and were “useful”.
“Waikato District Health Board has a name (for) being innovative, being willing to try different things and spearheading many different ways of working. When this job came up, which is across the whole DHB rather than just focusing on the hospital, I thought: ‘this is an opportunity to step away from the day-to-day operational issues that happen in the hospital and provide a professional framework and paradigm in which we can get nurses to work in right across the district’.
“It was scary and certainly pushed me right out of my comfort zone. It’s been great. It has really been good.”
Hayward’s ability to interact well with nurses and midwives comes, she believes, from her perspective on experiences in neo-natal and with death.
“I think the best cases, no matter the outcome, are when as a nurse you’re working in a team and you make decisions and you provide care in a way that really stretches your skill and you know that you have achieved it.
“For me, working with neo-nates, which always included the mother and father and extended family, was always about keeping them informed and involved in the care and remembering that even though the baby may have been in the hospital for 100 or 150 days, the baby was their baby. How we delivered care to those very precious, fragile babies had an influence on how that child was able to live for the rest of its life. That is something that is incredibly powerful.
“The first time you experience death is really hard but it’s the families looking to you for support and strength.”
Now it’s her senior colleagues at Waikato DHB and nurses and midwives across the region who look to Hayward for support and strength.
“My job… is essentially a position that expects me to provide (professional) leadership.
“I make sure that however we staff our facilities it allows nurses to deliver a standard of care that the public expect.
“I provide advice to the CEO and the board. I also have a team of clinical nurse directors and a clinical midwifery team director who give me advice.”
“When we started off, the time nurses had to give to patients was around 31 per cent of their day, they’ve now got that up to 59 per cent. The difference that makes to their feeling of being in control is amazing. It’s also having a profound effect on decreasing the number of errors and the number of falls.”
The nurses have total control of the changes they make in the wards and are working with different departments within the hospital – carpentry, laundry, maintenance, painters and storage – to eliminate ‘motion time’ as much as possible.
Hayward helped get the ball rolling with the initiative and she now gets to observe the changes in her team coming about from the productive ward.
She now finds the outlook of nurses in general is more positive.
“It’s not always been easy because while they have been doing this they have also been doing their ordinary work. The commitment has been fabulous.”
Hayward’s role also steps away from the hospital and into the training institutions, in particular, Wintec.
“Wintec are our main provider for our nurses and we provide almost 50 per cent of a nurse’s time here for clinical placement. We’re like joint owners of the student nurse.”
She feels that nursing is still an excellent choice for a career and is working with Wintec and Waikato DHB’s hospital and health services provider Health Waikato to develop a project in which “we saturate areas with student nurses. We provide clinical tutors from Wintec as well as more participation from us (the hospital)”. This plan, called Dedicated Education Units, is already in place in Adelaide, Australia and Christchurch hospitals.
Waikato DHB has more than 2500 nurses and midwives and they all come under the professional care of Hayward in one way or another.
In her spare time Hayward enjoys “a good bit of fiction” and watches Coronation Street on a regular basis. The Haywards live in Cambridge and recently became grandparents for the first time; Lennon is now 18 months old.
When asked where her inspiration to do nursing and midwifery came from Hayward hesitates for a moment.
“I’m not quite sure really. I knew that I always wanted to do it. I think that I loved the idea as a young child of being useful, of having some sort of experience with patients and families. Knowing that what job you had made a difference to their world.
“I have never, ever, regretted choosing nursing as a career and I would still highly recommend it.”
Hayward’s dedication and hard work sees her now working at the same level as her mentors from her early days as a nurse.
“A couple of my directors of nursing that I worked under were amazing. One was Cathy Cooney who is now chief executive of Lakes (District Health Board)… and Barbara Fox who works as director of nursing at St George’s Hospital in Christchurch. I had enormous admiration for the way the two of them worked and provided such leadership and support that made you feel you could do anything.”
Hayward now works on a collegial level with both women, a major achievement in her life.
Hayward may have been working in the industry for over 30 years now but she continues to learn.
“Every day you come to work in the clinical sense you learn something. In fact, every day I come to work in this job I learn something. There’s no way I could do this job without a really strong, committed team that I work alongside.”
Although Hayward only stands at just over five foot tall she makes up for her lack of height in drive and enthusiasm. Hayward is an inspiration to all nurses and she deserves the respect she has from her staff.
Heather Chappell is Wintec journalism student.
Date: 9 August 2010
Mary Anne Gill
Waikato District Health Board
021 705 213