Driving a Culture of Innovation, the Respect Way: Year in Review

Respect Way Lean Leadership program |

Our dedicated staff at Peace Haven, Tasmania, collaborated on an innovative project to improve UTI management.

Pictured above: Our dedicated staff at Peace Haven, Tasmania, collaborated on an innovative project to improve UTI management.

After a successful maiden year, the Respect Way Lean Leadership program has further embedded a culture of innovation across our organisation, which is having a direct, beneficial impact on our residents and the care they receive.

Led by Ana Van Der Merwe, Respect’s Continuous Improvement Lead, the unique personal development program provides team members, especially frontline staff, with the confidence, tools, and skills to strive for and enact positive change. Participants then take these skills back to their teams, share knowledge, and apply the approach in their work environments when faced with specific operational challenges. 

“Above all, Respect Way is about empowering our staff to recognise opportunities for improvement, supporting them with the necessary tools to solve problems and continuously innovate,” Ana says.

Throughout 2023, several innovation projects have been driven by Respect Way participants, all with the aim of delivering meaningful change in our homes. 

One of the projects undertaken this year centred on improving the dining experience for residents of our Mt St Vincent home in West Ulverstone, Tasmania, including those currently living with dementia.

Supported by the home’s recent refurbishment, and running alongside our catering team’s existing initiative to enhance and standardise the dining experience, we trialled the use of novel table settings to improve resident participation and engagement. This also included the use of bright coloured plates and bowls to support our residents living with dementia.  

An additional component of the project involved staff engaging in virtual reality training with Dementia Australia, so they could gain a better first-hand understanding of what it might be like to experience a meal while living with dementia.  

Another successful Respect Way project in 2023 focused on improving the prevention and detention of urinary tract infections (UTIs) amongst residents.  

Led by the leadership team at Peace Haven in Norwood, Tasmania, the project investigated a reported increase in the occurrence of UTIs in the home. By drawing on several Respect Way  problem-solving techniques, the project found that there was a varied approach to testing and continence care – and through a focus on staff training and education, the team developed a collective and best-practice approach.

This included adherence to continence management policy and process supported by training, and ongoing awareness of the key clinical trends of residents, with important health markers regularly shared with all staff.  

The end result was a significant reduction in UTIs, increased communication amongst staff members, and an improved focus on clinical trends and engagement of care.

Another example of how the operations of our homes have been streamlined and improved, thanks to the Respect Way, was evident in our new approach to managing maintenance support.

Previously, all requests for maintenance services at our homes were written up in a logbook, which was kept in a home’s maintenance office or nurses station. Maintenance staff were required to retrieve a log of jobs daily, while also juggling  ad-hoc requests from staff and residents to attend immediate repairs. It naturally proved challenging for team members to keep track of which jobs were already requested and their ongoing status. 

Our team at Alcheringa in Swan Hill, Victoria, initially identified the issue and – with support from Respect Way – trialled an initial solution: a shared, digital form managed on-site by the maintenance team, which informed staff immediately when a new job was logged and kept track of its priority.  

This process worked so well it was expanded into an app, supported by Respect’s Continuous Improvement team. Before long, the new approach was implemented in each of our homes. And thanks to the support of Jason Neville, Respect’s Property and Services Manager, and his team, it’s continuing to have beneficial impacts across our organisation.

Ana says all three initiatives have already led to vast improvements in our operations and the support we provide both staff and residents. 

“Each of our initiatives and projects this year have demonstrated the innovative work being driven by our colleagues, especially those working on the ground where they can see how a subtle change in approach can lead to terrific benefits for our residents, and across our homes,” she says.  

“Bringing about meaningful change for our residents and staff can only truly happen at our homes, where the work closest to our residents happens, and there are several more projects currently being investigated by our great teams, and even more brilliant areas of focus for the future.”

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