Building Quality Improvement Capability in the New Zealand IPC Workforce

Nikki Grae1, Lynette Drew1, Suzanne  Proudfoot2, Gillian Bohm1

1Health Quality & Safety Commission, Wellington, New Zealand,

2Ko Awatea, Otahuhu, New Zealand


Introduction: The Health Quality & Safety Commission (the Commission) in partnership with Ko Awatea developed a quality improvement (QI) facilitator course targeted at Infection Prevention and Control (IPC) practitioners. As key players in patient safety across district health boards (DHB), the aim was to expand IPC practitioner knowledge and skills in QI methodologies to enable them to become an effective facilitator of change in their DHB.


Methods: All twenty DHBs were invited to nominate an IPC practitioner involved in implementing the Surgical Site Infection Improvement Programme (SSIIP) to participate. The one-year course, June 2016 to June 2017, provided training in QI science during three face-to-face learning sessions, two regional meetings, and monthly webinars. Each participant identified and conducted a QI project related to surgical site infection reduction within their DHB.


Results: Nineteen IPC practitioners participated in the course. Throughout the year, participants reported progress and lessons learned as they applied the tools and trainings to their specific project. All participants provided a ‘storyboard’ at the end of the course.


Conclusions: This was the first national QI course designed for the IPC workforce. Participation increased the level of networking and QI skill set of the IPC practitioners involved in the SSIIP. This approach to QI promoted the establishment of multi-disciplinary teams and the use of ‘frontline ownership’ to improve patient outcomes within DHBs. The success of this course has led to the adoption by other patient safety QI programmes associated with the Commission.


Nikki Grae is the senior advisor for the infection prevention and control programme at the Health Quality & Safety Commission. She has over nine years of infection prevention, quality and patient safety experience in the healthcare sector. Nikki started her IPC career in the USA and moved to NZ in 2016.

Lynette Drew is a quality improvement advisor working with the Commission’s improvement programmes. She has a broad knowledge of quality improvement methodologies including clinical effectiveness and audit, lean and six sigma. Lynette previously worked in a quality improvement role for two trusts in the UK NHS for 13 years.

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