NSLHD News September 10

Get the latest news from across Northern Sydney Local Health District.


hornsby ed covid-19 response The team’s rapid response to COVID-19 cases kept staff and patients safe in face of outbreak.

Read more on page 6

celebrating speech pathology week across the district Page 3

Helping hand from NSLHD helps preserve Dignity Page 5

Leaders in healthcare, partners in wellbeing


with the people around us, both at work and home, and support anyone who is struggling. From the 2019-20 devastating bushfire season to the COVID-19 pandemic, this year continues to be extremely challenging for every one – whether you’re on the frontline or working behind the scenes. Each and every one of you have played an important part in our preparedness to respond to the pandemic. We must not underestimate its impact, as well as the affect it may have also had in your personal supporting and looking out for each other, R U OK? Day is an important reminder to start a conversation with a colleague, family member or friend you’re worried about. Please remember the Employee Assistance Program (EAP) is available to all staff and immediate family. It’s a free, confidential counselling, coaching and wellbeing service. You can find out further details on the Intranet. Even though travel is currently restricted, please remember to give yourself a break and take some time off. life, on your families and friends. While I know you are all constantly You have all been working incredibly hard to care for our patients, consumers and the community, and it’s so important that you take the time to look after your own health and wellbeing. message FROM the Chief executive Deb Willcox

I am excited to announce a new district project to develop a Northern Sydney Health, Education and Research Precinct Plan for the Royal North Shore Hospital campus. The plan will enable us to focus on our need to meet the growing and evolving healthcare needs of our community. The Royal North Shore Hospital campus has seen a lot of change over the past decade, and it will continue to evolve to meet new models of care, drive research and build on our culture of education and delivering quality healthcare. Our plan will complement the Greater Sydney Commission’s plan for the area around Royal North Shore Hospital, identifying it as a health, education and research precinct as well as the NSW Health State Plan – Towards 2021. Growing and investing in the Northern Sydney Health, Education and Research Precinct is key to improving the health and wellbeing of the NSLHD population and will deliver employment, more innovation and a competitive edge on the global research stage. The planning process will include the establishment of a Precinct Planning Committee with representation across all staff groups as well as our campus partners. We will be holding some targeted discussions over the coming months and this will be followed by a wide and deep consultation will all those on the RNSH campus and our partners. I look forward to working with you over the coming months to see the future course for this very special campus. Thursday 10 September is R U OK? Day – a day which encourages all of us to connect

Deb Willcox Chief Executive Northern Sydney Local Health District


Speaking up for Speech Pathology Week In a year where

communication has proved so important, speech pathologists across the district recently celebrated ‘communicating with confidence’ as part of Speech Pathology Week. More than 1.2 million people in Australia live with a communication disability and more than one million people live with a swallowing disorder. The coronavirus pandemic has highlighted the challenges faced by Australians with communication disability. Speech pathologist Beth Knox said it was important we don’t let current challenges like mask wearing and telehealth communications difficulty. “Communication disability is largely invisible, unseen and out-of-sight,” she said. affect communication with those who have a Inside the Adult Mental Health Inpatient Unit at Hornsby Ku- ring-gai Hospital is a room unlike other clinical rooms: mood lighting, teddy bears, sequin-weighted pillows and aromatherapy scents. Outside are massage chairs and iPads for selecting music – some of the most popular tools Occupational Therapist Amy Spears uses with her mental health consumers in their therapy. The sensory stimulation therapy aides are used to help consumers be calm and comfortable, as well as de- escalate highly anxious or agitated consumers. “Supplying sensory tools like these is about empowering individuals with coping skills they can take home with them,” said Amy. “The massage chairs are really helpful with acute patients and it is great to be able to offer

Staff sharing their #SPweek messages

“It’s important we remember to be inclusive and help those with communication difficulties to maximise their participation in the social, educational, economic and sporting aspects of community life.” Only 38 per cent of Australians with communication disability are participating in the workforce compared with 80 per cent of people without communication disability.

Speech pathologists assess, diagnose and treat communication disability, including difficulties with speech, language, reading and writing, stuttering and voice.

They work with Australians who have communication disability that may have been from birth, emerged during childhood, been acquired during adulthood or developed in old age. New sensations: Hornsby’s adult mental health inpatient uniT

Occupational Therapist Amy Spears

them a massage chair and see them physically relax.” But none of this would have been possible so soon without the help of an NSLHD Innovation Pitch grant. Amy applied for a pitch grant last year and while it did take some time for her to do the application, she said it was well worth it.

For any teams or individuals thinking of applying, Amy’s advice is: “It’s definitely worth it. It did take a little bit of extra work but the benefits are still going.” The next Innovation Pitch round is now open. For more details visit https://bit. ly/2DJyjcD or contact NSLHD- InnovationProgram@health. nsw.gov.au.



Peer workers with CE Deb Willcox

peer workers support mental health consumers’ recovery Peer workers are playing a vital role in mental health consumers’ recovery sharing their experiences and personal journeys to help others. NSLHD now has 29 peer to consumers and carers, they also form part of the multi- disciplinary teams treating consumers. Recently Chief Executive Deb journey,” Mental Health Drug and Alcohol Engagement Manger Francesca Congilo said. “They bring their lived experience to the multi-

Willcox met with the peer workers who work across the clinical and community services. “We have 20 consumer peer workers who work in services to support the recovery of the consumers. By providing their lived experience they help in the person’s recovery

discplinary teams to participate in the care planning of a consumer. “We also have nine carer peer workers who provide invaluable input into service delivery.”

workers who come from all walks of life offering their valuable lived experiences to consumers and carers of mental health. Peer workers are part of the mental health workforce and not only provide mentoring world sepsis day This World Sepsis Day, September 13, clinical teams across NSLHD will take part in education sessions on the warning signs of sepsis. It comes as health workers are reminded to be alert to the risk of sepsis in patients with COVID-19. Sepsis is always caused by an infection and this can include COVID-19. In fact, sepsis is one of the ways which COVID-19 can cause serious

illness and death. Clinical Excellence

Lander said. Sepsis symptoms may include fast breathing or heart rate, slurred speech, confusion, fever or feeling very cold, muscle pain, low urine output, skin mottled or discoloured, and feeling extremely unwell. A range of resources on identifying and treating sepsis are available on the CEC website here: https://bit. ly/33bxrWX.

Commission (CEC) Director Systems Improvement Dr Harvey Lander said sepsis occurs when the body’s response to infection injures its own tissues and organs. It can lead to shock, multi-organ failure, long-term disability and death. “If your patient has signs and symptoms of infection always ask ‘Could it be sepsis?’,” Dr

nslhd’s roaring start to steptember Northern Sydney Local Health District is off to a red hot steppers and has raised more than $8400 with over 15 million steps taken. Not far behind, Hornsby

start to Steptember, clocking in more than 45 million steps and raising over $24,000 so far for children and adults with cerebral palsy. Royal North Shore Hospital has the top number of

to seven million steps and raised more than $4000. An amazing result by all staff involved. Keep up the steps!

Hospital staff have taken more than nine million steps, raising more than $3200, followed by Brookvale Community Health Centre which has taken close



Workplace giving delivering more than socks and jocks COVID-19 has affected all of us in different ways, but for some it has meant the loss of jobs, relationships and in some cases, homes.

Northern Sydney Local Health District’s continued support of local homelessness charity Dignity through Workplace Giving is more important than ever before. In the past 12 months, the district has raised more than $5700 for those at risk of or experiencing homelessness. That’s the equivalent of 80 warm winter blankets, 115 new sets of pyjamas, 50 sets of socks and undies and six fridges, completely stocked with nourishing food. Dignity’s volunteer and donations coordinator Sherin Fishwick said it was now more important than ever to support those who may not have a place to call home. “During the pandemic more people have faced homelessness or been at risk of homelessness,” she said. “With your support Dignity has been able to provide the shelter, food and clothing they have needed. “The money raised by NSLHD Work Place Giving has contributed to additional people being empowered to end their homelessness.” One of those contributing to will join our emergency departments and COVID clinics at Royal North Shore, Ryde and Hornsby hospitals, as part of the NSW Government’s Patient Experience Program The patient experience officer role is a non-clinical role that works principally during the peak demand times however can also work a range of shifts

Stroke area coordinator Susan Day

helping others is stroke area coordinator Susan Day. She has been on board since the program launched in August last year and says it has never been easier to make a difference. “It’s the equivalent to a coffee a fortnight and I can afford to give that,” she said. “Many of us healthcare workers are lucky enough to be in a privileged position so I am happy to make that donation.”

participating in workplace giving, we’re extending that community beyond these four walls and helping some of the most vulnerable in our community,” she said. “Our care doesn’t stop when they leave the hospital; donating to Dignity allows us to continue to care for some of our most vulnerable patients within the community.”

Susan said it was a privilege to be able to offer support outside of her role in the clinical environment. “The hospital is a strong community and by For more information, or to sign up to donate to Dignity through Workplace Giving, please visit the Workplace Giving page on the intranet or contact Director of Strategic Operations Lavena Ramdutt at Lavena.Ramdutt@health. nsw.gov.au . Patient experience officers starting at nslhd hospitals Patient experience officers

to understand the challenges across the day and support staff development. During the initial pilot, two patient experience officers were allocated to each emergency department and were recruited for their interpersonal skills and personal resilience, including working with challenging behaviours.

The NSW Ministry of Health project team, the pilot sites and Service NSW have worked collaboratively to design a training and mentoring program to support patient experience officers in the emergency department. For more information visit: https://bit.ly/33d5iie



Hornsby team reflects on overcoming COVID-19 emergency It was a Saturday afternoon

6 NSLHDNEWS | ISSUE 17| 10 SEPTEMBER 2020 centre away from the main ED floor, the pair worked the phones while they were supported on the floor by Clinical Nurse Manager “I remember calling staff to tell them (they needed to isolate) and there was a lot of shock.” Setting up an incident control What followed over the course of the next 24-48 hours was hundreds of phone calls to affected staff, welfare checks and working with their ED colleagues to ensure the department continued to run smoothly and be able to care for patients. They also needed to identify patients who had been in contact with the COVID positive staff member and assist the NSLHD Public Health Unit to start contact tracing. “It was a race against time because our priority was the welfare of our staff. We wanted to tell them first-hand about what had happened before it was made public,” Beda said. and Beda Andrews was enjoying her day off from Hornsby Ku-ring-gai Hospital’s Emergency Department when the acting Nurse Unit Manger received a phone call to say there was an incident at work. She immediately returned to work, where she joined Acting Director of ED, Dr Andrew (Andy) Brown, and together the pair swung into action to face one of the department’s toughest challenges. The incident was a staff member diagnosed with COVID-19 and the pair’s immediate priority was the welfare of their colleagues. They needed to quickly identify staff who had been in contact with the affected team member and have them isolate at home. Immediately the ED lost about 18 staff working that day as they quarantined at home. Andy and Beda then needed to find staff to cover their shifts.

ED staff Beda Andrews, Carolyn Opie and Dr Andrew Brown

Tristan Miller and Dr Stephen Kearney who managed the department. Dr Felicia Kwok began to oversee the rostering logistics, ED Clerical Supervisor Justine McMahon supported the team, while COVID After Hours Nurse Manager Carolyn Opie and After Hours hospital executive Adrienne Stern assisted the ED in the crucial first few hours. “My focus had always been on responding to a patient who had COVID and the influx of patients so it was a lot of a shock when it was a colleague,’’ Beda said. “But it was so good to see all of our disaster training come into effect and the whole team just pulled together.” What was unsurprising to Andy and Beda was the overwhelming support from their fellow ED colleagues, other hospital and district staff throwing their hands up to help. Doctors and nurses volunteered to perform double shifts, nurses moved to 12 hour shifts, colleagues from other departments came to work in ED and colleagues from other hospitals in the district, including Mona Vale, Royal

North Shore and the Northern Beaches, volunteered to help man the department to cover staffing shortfalls. “We are like one big family and everyone just pulled together,” Andy said. “Everyone was doing it tough in different ways. We had those who were working really hard and worried about the quarantined staff and those at home self-isolating concerned about their colleagues who were working. “Initially we needed to work out what was needed for the first 48 hours and then the next two weeks. Because of the unpredictability of COVID, we didn’t know how many staff would have to isolate. We lost an entirety of three shifts of staff. A third of the medical workforce and about 40 per cent of the nursing staff.” Immediate quarantining, use of Protective Personal Equipment (PPE) and following strict hand hygiene and social distancing protocols were effective in managing the spread of COVID in ED. Fortunately all staff are now well and have returned to work.

international literacy day 2020 Tuesday September 8 was

above the NSW rate. Health Promotion Officer, Rebecca Macnaughton said: “While hospitalisation data is thought to be inflated by the number of private hospitals in Northern Sydney, our women are increasingly exceeding the NHMRC Australian Risk Drinking Guidelines and are accessing local drug & alcohol services in increasing numbers. “All of these data sources point to an increasing level of alcohol related harm among Northern Beaches women. “We spoke with local women via focus groups in 2019 to explore the issue and get a clearer picture of the main concerns before undertaking the survey.” The survey found women predominately drank alcohol in social situations with 61 per cent drinking in the home environment. In addition, eighty one percent of women reported all gatherings they attended had alcohol present. “Even more concerning was that 60 per cent of women said all child-orientated gatherings they attend had Sarah, who is expecting twins said: “I’ve got three big brothers at home ready to read the babies their first story.” International Literacy Day Coordinator at ALEA North Local Council Wendy Bean said bedtime stories provide a special time to be with a child. “This time presents a rich opportunity to develop the literacy skills of listening, speaking, reading and comprehending,” she said. “Research has shown that children who are read to, who are included in conversations and see others reading and

between 35-59 years living on the Northern Beaches believe there is problematic drinking among women in their age group in the area. In fact, 97 per cent of women surveyed drank alcohol, with sixty eight percent being either a moderate-risk or high- risk drinker. Most reported using alcohol for enjoyment, socialisation and to cope with stress from the complexities and pressures of life. The Women & Alcohol Survey was conducted by Northern Sydney Local Health District (NSLHD) earlier this year and delved into the experience and feedback from 583 local women. The alcohol issue first came to the attention of researchers when local data showed that NSLHD had the highest number and rate of alcohol attributable hospitalisations in NSW between 2017-18. Moreover, women aged 35-54 years were over-represented in these figures and specifically women on the Northern Beaches were 40 per cent International Literacy Day – a day that aims to highlight the importance of literacy. For the last 13 years Australian Literacy Educators’ Association (ALEA) Sydney North has delivered books to newborn babies at Royal North Shore Hospital. New mum Wei was excited to receive the book for her baby. “This is Chloe’s first book. We will definitely be reading to her – we want her to be proficient in English and other languages,” she said.

Baby Chloe with her very first book

writing, develop essential literacy skills more easily as well as developing a love for reading.”

‘Women & Wine o’clock’ northern beaches culture strong A survey has revealed that fifty six percent of women aged

alcohol available,” she said. Despite alcohol playing a large role in women’s lives, nearly forty per cent of moderate drinkers and almost sixty per cent of high-risk drinkers have a desire to reduce their consumption of alcohol. This desire to reduce drinking is good news for our Health Promotion team which is now investigating strategies to help address the ‘women and wine o’clock’ culture on the Northern Beaches. In the meantime we encourage women, or anyone wishing to reduce their drinking to speak with a health professional or directly contact the Get Healthy Information & Coaching Service. This government service will provide them with a free health coach who can help guide them (without judgement) through reducing their alcohol consumption. Simply call 1300 806 258 or visit www. gethealthynsw.com.au. For more information on the survey, visit www. nshealthpromotion.com.au


Share your news and achievements.

Contact our team on 9463 1722 or email NSLHD-media@ health.nsw.gov.au to submit your news.




If you’re worried about someone start by asking “Are you OK?”

No, I’mnot OK. Dig a bit deeper:

Yes, I’mfine. But your gut says they’re not:

“It’s just that you don’t seem to be your usual self lately.”

“What’s been happening?”

“Have you been feeling this way for a while?”

“I’malways here if you want to chat.”

“I’m ready to listen if you want to talk.”

“Is there someone else you’d rather talk to?”

Listen with an openmind

Encourage action and offer support: “How can I help?” “What would help take the pressure off?” “What do you enjoy doing? Making time for that can really help.” “Have you thought about seeing your doctor?”

Make time to check in: “Let’s chat again next week.”

Learn what to say at ruok.org.au A conversation could change a life

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