Staff Profile: Catherine Crichton

Quality Improvement Manager
Well Child Tamariki Ora Quality Improvement
Sudden Unexpected Death in Infancy

After nursing in mainly primary and community practice for 12 years, a change in direction and a passion for child health resulted in Catherine Crichton’s role with the South Island Alliance Programme Office (SIAPO).

From working in a neonatal unit, to a position at Starship Hospital, her nursing roles have been largely focused in the child health space. During Catherine’s most recent seven-year stint as a Public Health Nurse on the West Coast, she also worked as the B4 Schools Check coordinator, overhauling the process to be as streamlined, timely and cost-effective as possible. “It was exciting to be a part of change on a small scale, so that’s what attracted me to this position at SIAPO – I wanted to be a part of supporting change on a larger scale, across the Well Child spectrum.”

Lockdown was a catalyst for that change, and Catherine joined SIAPO in August 2020. “It’s been an interesting experience so far,” she says. “I’ve been able to network with a range of contacts much broader than what I could on the West Coast, where it’s so isolated that you make the most of who you meet, so I sort of carried that over into this role.”

Originally from Brazil, Catherine grew up in Wellington. From a young age, she had always enjoyed caring for others. “As a teenager, I helped look after special needs children, which gave me a lot of understanding about the difficulties that they and their parent’s go through. I also worked for IDEA Services, supporting children with intellectual disabilities, while I was training to become a nurse.”

Catherine is one of two Quality Improvement managers for Well Child Tamariki Ora (WCTO) Quality Improvement (QI) and Sudden Unexpected Death in Infancy (SUDI). The role is split to cover the South Island with her colleague Marijke Dryfhout, and they both facilitate the WCTO QI Steering Group.

Originally starting the role remotely, Catherine worked from her home in Westport while also keeping up clinical practice for a few months before moving to Christchurch. “Although it was hard leaving my close friends and support system in Westport, I love living in a city again and I’m really enjoying the SIAPO office environment.”

As part of the WCTO QI framework, she also facilitates the South Island Breastfeeding Working Group, supporting improved breastfeeding rates across the region. “It’s about looking at our data and assessing breastfeeding behaviour across the South Island, which has been a really interesting project to work on.”

Re-establishing the WCTO networking hui on the West Coast is another aim. “People have found it very beneficial and supportive to bring all the WCTO providers into one room and talk about what’s happening, so I want to help keep that momentum going to ensure everyone can keep doing the good work they’re doing.

“This way of working is completely new to me and I feel like I’m in a good place to branch out and see what else I can fit into this role.”


Published on: Thursday, June 3rd, 2021, under Child health, General