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Train of Thought...
July 2002

As I worked away over the weekend pruning my roses I got to reflecting on things that had happened at work this last month. Now I was physically bloodied and bruised from the rose thorns, but earlier in the month I was feeling mentally bloodied and bruised. This trauma arose from my having to complete an inordinately long and, in my opinion, excessively politically correct, self?assessment of my service for the purposes of a hospital accreditation gaps analysis. So many of the questions related to things that I take for granted - access to services, integration of services, provision of multilingual brochures etc etc. I felt, firstly, that I had more pressing things to deal with and, secondly, wondered why I had to prove and document what we all, in the Department, take for granted as being essential for the delivery of a quality service. It was little consolation to me being told by the Quality Police "But other areas don't work like that".

Looking at my roses after I had lopped branches off them and trussed them up to their frames I wondered what I had done to them. They certainly didn't look very attractive and it was hard to believe that they were the same bushes and standards that had provided so many blooms and attracted so many comments over the summer. They certainly won't be attracting comment for a while now. Only my vision convinces me I have done it properly.

However, I have learned that only by cutting them down to size and shaping them now, will they produce the sought after blooms and admiration over the summer months. Similarly those bushes that didn't perform well need to be evaluated and either replanted or disposed of. Maybe they just need plenty of manure spread around them.

As I clipped and chopped I got to thinking. Even though I believe we provide an excellent service through our Department, just like my Roses, perhaps we do need to strip things down to the basics and allow space to re-evaluate and redevelop. Perish the thought, but perhaps that self-assessment was the manure that we needed to make our service even better. Yes there were things that we didn't score well on and yes we lacked documentation of much that we do - well of course! What I am more certain of now though, is that, come the visit of the assessors in 2 year's time, we will come up smelling of roses.

I do believe it is important that we put ourselves outside of our comfort zone and expose ourselves to review. It is all too easy to see our service with our own hat on instead of putting a user's hat on. Just because we get no complaints doesn't mean we are getting it right. Unless we seek review we will fail to seize opportunities to improve and enhance the quality of our service.

It is also important to take time out to reflect on things. All too often I find myself caught up in the hurly burly of day to day crises and end up reacting. Time out to reflect allows for getting things into perspective and that leads to better decision making in the long run.

This time around, I guess, I have to concede victory to the "Quality Police" even if the winning goal was scored in extra time!

'til next time,

Kevin

kevin.gain@health.wa.gov.au

 

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