Enabling an innovative workforce for research success

By Kerryn Vine-Camp, Calvary National Director People & Corporate Services

Thomas A Edison once said: “There’s a way to do it better – find it”.

As a leading healthcare provider, Calvary recognises that to ensure ongoing research activities we must have an organisational strategy that attracts, retains and supports innovation among our workforce. We need to be competitive in securing researchers to our team first, and then putting in place measures that provides the researcher and their undertakings the right technical and infrastructure supports, as well as  and the competitive advantage of having access to geographic and demographic expanse on a national scale.

Calvary provides healthcare to about 300,000 people a year across the country from birth to end of life and everything in between, through hospitals, community and aged care services, and virtual care. Through our Mission, Calvary has more than 18,000 people delivering quality, responsive and compassionate care and this includes a well-recognised research workforce that contributes to our strong reputation.

Innovation in healthcare delivery

Improvements in healthcare are underpinned by research, and the patients, residents and clients of Calvary facilities benefit from the interwoven relationships of our services and researchers, who actively participate in the day-to-day delivery of care, as well as working on research to inform better outcomes for patients.

At some of our sites, research and innovation is already contributing to major changes in healthcare delivery. This includes oncology and haematology, neurodegenerative diseases, and in palliative and end-of-life care. These health studies involve a mix of our Calvary medical, nursing, allied health staff and volunteers, and are often undertaken in partnership with education institutions, research organisations and philanthropic groups from our facilities with the participation of our patients, clients and residents. We have achieved some outstanding results, often with many long-term partners.

But we know we can still do more and do it better, and beyond accessing funding and grants for the research itself. Calvary is looking at how it can make changes to its workforce strategy to support the ongoing development and growth of innovative healthcare exploration.

Research is not simply a result of driven individuals looking to do things better, they need to be enabled by those they work with to find ways to ensure the right supports are in place. The benefits of Calvary being a national organisation is that we can provide our workforce portability. For researchers, the opportunity to apply and share their research across different sites can not only help to widen and improve their data collection, but it ultimately assists with generating wider recognition of their research. And we’re currently looking at ways to enhance our policies in areas including relocation guidelines and key worker accommodation.

Being part of an organisation with touch-points in five states and two territories across Australia, also means we can use our digital capabilities to help researchers and their teams collaborate across multiple sites and truly gain the benefits of national translational research and healthcare. This includes creating in-person and online opportunities for our people across various disciplines and working across different streams to come together and promote better health outcomes through the application of our research.

Partnerships with higher education institutions

Calvary also recognises the importance of industry collaboration in meeting the growing needs for quality healthcare. Our relationships with higher education institutions are important for our existing and future workforce, healthcare outcomes and research. We already have Memorandums of Understanding with Australian Catholic University, Australian National University, University of Sydney and University of Canberra.

These partnerships support our vision to harness and grow an innovative workforce to pursue models of care and research outcomes that meet the emerging health and social needs of the communities we serve. The universities offer us the ability to explore opportunities to upskill Calvary’s existing team members with tailored professional development, while at the same time engaging our workforce of the future through clinical placements and collaboration in research, translation and implementation science.

New opportunities through research workforce

We already know many of our people at Calvary are interested in being research-active in the workplace, and we are working hard to develop the right national strategies to enable that participation and encourage innovative engagement to benefit those we care for across all of our facilities. We also know that with streamlined national systems, we can extend access to the expertise of our already outstanding research workforce and create new opportunities to an interested and future innovative workforce, and contribute to even greater research success from across our organisation and with our strategic partners.

All healthcare providers want to achieve improved outcomes for their patients, and it is absolutely critical that we enable our nurses, doctors, allied health professionals, aged care workers, data analysts and health scientists to find better ways to carry out research to achieve the necessary results at the bedside.