Roz SorensenMeet Roz Sorensen - Health Quality & Safety Commission

The Midland region has had the pleasure of working alongside Roz over many years.  She has led several projects for our region from NASC through to Infant Perinatal, we have appreciated her expertise and contribution within the Midland.

We could not miss the opportunity to highlight Roz in our newsletter.

Tell us a little about yourself, who are you and what is your role?

I am the Manager of the national mental health and addiction quality improvement programme (MHA QI programme) at the Health Quality & Safety Commission, and lead a skilled team of improvers.

I am also Board Chair of Equip, a mental health NGO, and more recently Bays Youth Trust. (This organisation has come under Equip’s governance and operations). Additionally, I pursue academic interests across a range of activities including as a doctoral supervisor, guest lecturer, and journal reviewer.

I live in Auckland’s North Shore with my dog and two cats (plus two rescue cats). I enjoy spending time with my two adult children, their spouses, and my two grandchildren (with a further two grandchildren expected in 2019).

My interests include the outdoors: beach, bush and mountains. In recent years I have reached the summit of Mt Kilimanjaro, Everest Base camp, Mt Kala Pathar and Mt Toubkal in Morocco. I belong to my local tramping club and enjoy club trips. I plan to explore the Takatimu mountain range in the summer holidays.

Faith based reflective practices and mindfulness are part of my daily routine, and I belong to the Windsor Park Baptist community. I supported the Global Leadership Summit this year featuring Simon Sinek, one of my favourite inspirational speakers.

Tell us about your background in Mental Health & Addiction?

My first experiences of mental health were in 1975 at Carrington hospital as a student nurse. I found the institutional approach and treatments of the day frightening. Years later I returned to mental health services in a district health board as senior project/quality manager. I led positive service improvements including reconfiguring community mental health services to better meet population needs and consistent with a philosophy of recovery. Further to this, I have held a range of roles in DHB provider arm, planning and funding, shared agency and Ministry of Health all about improving mental health and addiction services.

While at the Ministry of Health I project managed the revision of the national service specifications for mental health and addiction, and the development of the mental health and addiction for older people and dementia guideline.

A lifelong learner I attained a Diploma in Business, Masters in Health Management, Masters in Educational Leadership, and a Doctorate in Health Science. My doctoral research focused on mental health consumer participation and demonstrated the benefits of the consumer voice to inform services’ development, delivery and evaluation.

I have also worked at Auckland University of Technology (AUT) as a senior lecturer for four years. My areas of academic interest included governance, health policy, leadership and quality. Publications are in the pipeline.

I completed the IHI Quality Improvement Advisor course and Prince2 practitioner project management course. Both courses have been useful in my work with the mental health and addiction sector.

I presented at the Asia Pacific International Mental Health and Addiction conference –Healthy Futures – this year on eliminating seclusion, a priority area for the national MHA QI programme.

At the Commission we have a mentoring arrangement with the Scottish safety programme and a networking relationship with Safer Care, Victoria, Australia.

I became more aware of the consumer and family experience when two of my own family members required mental health service assistance.  Understanding the issues from a unique lived experience is most insightful.

How do you see yourself supporting the Midland region and how can we in turn support you?

I have worked with the Midland region for several years as a contractor completing a range of mental health and addiction projects including: NASC review, eating disorders plan, strategic plan update, SACAT modelling, and more. I have also led some specific mental health project work for Waikato and Tairawhiti DHBs.

 In my current role with the Commission I am keen to advise and support the Midland DHB project teams as they advance their work in the national quality improvement priority areas, more specifically the two areas underway – zero seclusion and connecting care.

I am concerned about seclusion and other restrictive practices, and the trauma it causes to consumers, whānau and staff. Fragmented care due to poor communication and handover from one service component to another is also disappointing. There is so much room for improvement. Furthermore, there are opportunities for project teams to build quality improvement and co-design capability that can be applied to these projects and others. I believe using methodologies such as these engage the critical stakeholders, including consumers and whānau, from the outset and support the achievement of positive and sustainable outcomes.

In a range of workshops that the Commission’s MHA team is delivering, we are introducing tools and techniques for DHB project teams to apply in practice to improve their efficiency and effectiveness in this work. I am very keen that we foster growth.

An equity lens is essential, as some groups experience poorer health and social outcomes. I don’t want our improvement efforts to increase that equity gap. We need more targeted efforts particularly in Māori mental health and addiction. I am developing an understanding of my own unconscious bias and actively doing something about it.

I would welcome hearing from the Midland mental health and addiction network about the national MHA QI programme –what’s working and what could be improved? What would you like to see more of, less of, and how can we best engage you in the relevant initiatives and activities?

If you could change one thing relating to Mental Health & Addiction, what would that be?

As well as addressing equity for consumers, whãnau and staff in a more purposeful way, I would like to see a greater focus on staff wellbeing. When environments and work practices support staff to do their best, consumers benefit. Better together.

Internationally there is recognition that staff wellbeing is vital for a sustainable workforce and service.

What is your favourite “whakatauki – words of wisdom”?

Be humble and hungry for learning and growth.

Make the most of every day and opportunities that come your way. Although the days might seem long the years pass quickly.


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