It’s really heartening when you discover health professionals who are passionate about their career. Jacqui Allen’s career as a nurse spans over three decades, yet her passion for nursing remains ubiquitous in her latest role as a redesign facilitator at Eastern Health.
“I’m so passionate about leadership, improving patient care and improving systems for staff to work within,” says Allen. “I think any opportunity you have to broaden your knowledge or experience, why not lap it up?” Allen’s aptitude for change and development has acted as a guiding principle. Moving through the ranks from general nurse to educator to nurse manager, she’s continually embraced new challenges and thrived on opportunities to improve workplace practices. In her role as nurse manager at Box Hill Hospital, she successfully transformed a staffing shortage into a situation where people were drawn to the environment.
The quote, “leadership drives culture and culture drives strategy and improvement” is so true,” says Allen. “When I left this role, there were people waiting for a position and that was achieved simply by improving the work culture.” The skills and knowledge Allen has acquired from nursing have provided the quintessential framework for this role, the objective being to facilitate improved performance and quality patient care across Eastern Health.
“It’s about increasing the capability of staff across the whole system, so that they then have the knowledge and skills to do the improvement work themselves,” says Allen. “It’s really a coaching and support role.” Improvement methodology informs much of Allen’s work. The methodology is used to structure improvement work by identifying the core problem, isolating issues and wastes in the system, and formulating an ideal state and process for accomplishing better outcomes.
“You need to have a really clear problem statement upfront,” says Allen. “And you can’t do improvement work without measuring it to know if you’ve made a difference. This is critical.” Allen was drawn to her role as a redesign facilitator to expand upon an already impressive resume and to explore new challenges. Working across more than sixty different wards and programs, she’s grateful to have gleaned a broader perspective of health outside of the emergency department where she’s spent much of her career.
One of the larger programs of work that Allen has been involved in is the productive ward program, which focuses on improving the direct nursing care time for patients. The wards are highly organised with patient journey boards that snapshot every patient’s journey from admission through to discharge. There are also performance boards, visible to both staff and patients, which contain each ward’s performance data. The redesign team is also involved in leadership walk-rounds to ascertain what’s working for staff and where support might be needed.
“As a result, nursing teams have improved the quality of patient care and patients’ overall experience of care”, says Allen.
Allen acknowledges that without the input of key stakeholders the improvement work couldn’t be achieved and sees firsthand how beneficial the support and coaching is for staff.
Allen never planned for her career to take this pathway but revels in the opportunities serendipity has offered.
“What I find really rewarding is that I can influence at both a strategic and an operational level,” says Allen.. “I love to learn and develop, and in redesign work you can always do that.”