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Strong ideas mark Innovation Program’s comeback

The Innovation Program’s Pitch Event has returned with a splash of cash after four strong ideas went toe-to-toe for the first time in a year.

Chief Executive Deb Willcox and the judging panel of Executive Director of Operations Lee Gregory and Director of Clinical Governance Mark Zacka faced a difficult decision, but ultimately it was Royal North Shore Hospital Physiotherapist Charis Tse who came out on top with her idea ‘Power Up!’

Power Up! is a district-first, one stop shop small group program for older people living with mental illness, allowing them to have their physical, psychological and social needs met.

“When the idea first actualised, I thought that a group environment will help our older, frail mental health consumers learn life skills to cope with their mental illness,” Charis said.

“Through further discussion with an Older Persons Mental Health OT, I realised how powerful social connection is in helping older people recover from their complex mental illness. 

Charis’ idea removes barriers for participants, with the $8100 she was awarded able to cover transport for participants to and from the sessions, as well as a psychologist to devise the program. 

Participants will also engage in a strength and balance exercise group run by an aged care physiotherapist.

“This directly addresses a service gap recognised by the NSW Mental Health Commission,“ she said.

I’m hoping that this will set the precedence to become the gold standard of care in both the public and private sectors, so all mental health consumers are given the opportunity to recover.
Innovation Program winner and Royal North Shore Hospital Physiotherapist, Charis Tse

Deb said she was impressed by the innovative ideas and polished pitches of the participants after the program’s hiatus.

“COVID meant we had to take an enforced break from the program, but it was great to see it come back with a bang,” she said.

“Most of the ideas were a direct result of COVID-19, and while there can only be one winner on the night, we are definitely exploring how we can make the other pitches come to life – because they will also have a strong, positive impact on patient care.”

Royal North Shore Emergency Department’s Bright Lights for Kids pitch from Alison Partyka, Danielle Coats and Stephanie Millet finished second and took home the audience-voted Best Presenter category.

Hornsby Hospital’s 4C diversional therapist Felicity Smith and Clinical Nurse Educator Madeleine Borys finished third with their idea ‘Healing Hands’, while Best of Both Worlds from Royal North Shore Cardiology’s Maura Farrell and Chris Bruntsch also impressed.

As Charis revels in her win – she encouraged other to apply if they have an idea that could change patient care for the better.

“I didn’t apply for the pitch expecting to win – I merely dared to dream. No idea is too small and anything is possible,” she said.

“And if you’re lucky enough to be invited to speak at the pitch event – practice, practice, practice – my team, my friends and family, including the family dogs have heard my speech many, many times!”

You can apply now for Round Two of the 2022 Innovation Program. If you have any questions please contact [email protected]

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