About Cathy Balding

About Cathy Balding

Welcome to my website!

It's the website I wish I'd had when I started out (pre-websites!) - and throughout my career in quality improvement; access to resources that guide, reassure, challenge and teach.  

Are consumers better off for all the quality improvement work we do? Are we creating great care for every person, every time?

My mission is to help people answer these questions with: YES! - AND HERE'S HOW!  

To do this I've developed my strategic quality system to help human services organisations to cut through the jargon and get clear about the why, what and how of creating great quality care in three steps:

  1. Define what great care and services are for their consumers in concrete, measurable terms.

  2. Identify the skills and attitudes staff need to create great care, and what it takes to motivate their involvement.

  3. Implement the systems required to staff to create great care.

​​Read some SQS feedback here.

This involves finding a variety of ways to equip health, aged, community and human services' leaders to motivate, enable and team up with staff to create great care. 

Through my strategic quality system,books, research, resources, QualityNews bulletin, Qualityclass online training and QualityTalks interviews with leaders, I source and develop evidence-based systems and motivators that inspire and support action. 

Hundreds of boards, executives and health professionals from all sectors have used the strategic quality system to master and apply leadership skills, regardless of their previous experience to make a difference to the safety, quality and governance of their care - and enjoyed the process!

How I got to where I am

I’ve had (and continue to have!) an amazing career in healthcare quality improvement and clinical governance for over 20 years across a range of settings and roles. I  started out working in health information management and cut my quality teeth on quality improvement in a rural health region that encompassed community, acute and aged care services.

This experience taught me the importance of constantly asking the question: 'how are consumers better off for all of this quality activity?' - as I soon learned that it was easy to do a lot of work in the name of 'quality' for little point of care impact.  I was lucky enough to be able to pursue this question as inaugural manager of The Australian Council on Healthcare Standards’ Care Evaluation Program, which introduced clinical indicators into a national hospital accreditation program.

Since then I’ve held executive positions in quality and organisational development and coordinated a large metropolitan healthcare network quality program. Working in the state Department of Health introduced me to the policy side of quality improvement and in 2001 my role as manager of the newly formed Victorian Quality Council, the state Ministerial advisory body on healthcare safety and quality, provided an excellent opportunity to collaborate with managers, clinicians and quality professionals across Victoria to promulgate innovative approaches to improving safety and quality.

Since establishing my ‘Qualityworks’ consultancy in 2005, I’ve had a particular interest in strengthening organisational capacity for creating great quality consumer experiences, through the synthesis of theory and experience. I’ve developed and shared a number of capacity building models through presenting, publishing and applying them in collaboration with health and aged care services and policymakers and sharing this work at conferences and seminars across Australia, Asia and Europe.

Through this work I've distilled the 'Strategic Quality System' Model which gives organisations a simple, powerful framework for finding and achieving the purpose to their clinical/quality governance systems: creating great experiences with their consumers.

I also got to practice what I preach as an accreditation surveyor for a national healthcare accreditation organisation for over 10 years, and as a member of the Board of a large not for profit aged care organisation, chairing the Quality Committee. I've been a member of a number of health department and health service clinical governance advisory committees including the Victorian Ministerial Advisory Commitee on Patient Safety, and the Commonwealth Department of Health Technical Advisory Group on the new Aged Care Standards Framework.

A key focus for me is to provide opportunities for quality professionals to develop their roles to be more fulfilling, effective and recognised, and that is what my Qualityclass online training is designed to support. Explaining clinical governance and quality improvement in clear, plain language that showcases both purpose and process, and how to enact individual responsibilities, is my specialty! Using theory, research and real world experience, I love to clear away the jargon and confusion and help people re-focus on what's important - creating great care, services and experiences with consumers.

My QualityTalks interviews with quality leaders provide other perspectives on how to navigate the tricky healthcare quality waters.  I know these roles are not easy! – and I’m committed to helping those with quality leadership roles - from board to bedside - to develop their skills and knowledge to make it easier to do what they want to do, to do it well - and to have some fun and fulfilment along the way!

My content and approach are informed by both research and experience. Since completing my PhD in 2004, which looked at the role of middle managers in quality improvement, I've wanted to know more about how to design and implement quality systems that go beyond compliance to make a real difference to consumers and staff.  That's the reason researched and wrote my books, and more recently I've undertaken action research with La Trobe University on what makes an effective quality system. 

With Professor Sandra Leggat, I've tracked the quality systems of eight health services across three years to see what works and what doesn't, in terms of making a difference to patients and staff at point of care - where it counts.  The findings are fascinating for anyone working hard to create high quality care.  There are some things you should do - and some that are wasting your time! As we publish articles from the research I'll post them here.  I also source and curate resources from around the world that provide solutions ideas for making improvement easier and more effective.

All of this activity has one purpose from my perspective: it equips and enables me to bring the latest and best information and experience to everyone I work with.

I hope you’ll be a part of a great community of people who are striving to do the best for their consumers, through Qualityworks, QualityNews, QualityClass, or QualityBites - preferably all of them!

Cathy Balding MHA, PhD, FCHSM, GAICD
Director, Qualityworks P/L
Adjunct Professor, Health Service Management, La Trobe University.

'Dr Balding is arguably one of the handful of leading experts in quality management in Australasia.' (Kerin Robinson Head, Department of Health Information Management, La Trobe University.)

Publications: 2005 - 2020

  • Balding C and Leggat SG. (2020) Making high quality care an organisational strategy: Results of a longitudinal mixed methods study in Australian hospitals. Health Service Management Research, July 2020. https://doi.org/10.1177/0951484820943601
  • Leggat SG, Balding C (2018) Effective quality systems: implementation in Australian public hospitals. International Journal of Health Care Quality Assurance, Volume: 31 Issue: 8, 2018
  • Leggat SG, Balding C (2017) Bridging existing governance gaps: five evidence-based actions that boards can take to pursue high quality careAustralian Health Review,
  • Leggat SG, Balding C (2017) A qualitative study on the implementation of quality systems in Australian hospitals. Health Services Management Research, Volume: 30 issue: 3, page(s): 179-186.
  • Balding, C. ‘Clinical Governance’ Chapter in Health Services Management: An Australasian Perspective. Cambridge University Press, 2015.
  • Leggat SG, Balding C, Schiftan D. Developing clinical leaders: The impact of an action learning mentoring programme for advanced practice nurses. Journal of Clinical Nursing, 24(11-12) · 2015.
  • Leggat SG, Smyth A, Balding C.  Equipping clinical leaders for system and service improvements in quality and safety: an Australian experience. Australian and NZ Journal of Public Health, October 2015.
  • Balding, C (2013) Create a Great Quality System In Six Months: A blueprint for building the foundations of a great consumer experience.  Qualityworks, Melbourne.
  • Leggat S, Balding C (2013) Achieving organisational competence for clinical leadership: the role of high performance work systems. Journal of Health Organization and Management, volume 27, issue 3: online edition.
  • Balding  C, Five Essential Skills for 21st Century Quality Professionals in Health and Human Service Organisations, in Quality Assurance and Management, 2012. Savsar, M  (Ed.), ISBN: 978-953-51-0378-3, InTech, Available by clicking here.
  • Balding C, ‘The Strategic Quality Manager Handbook’ (2011). Arcade Custom, Australia.
  • Leggat SG, Balding C & Anderson JA (2011) Empowering healthcare managers in Australia: An action learning approach. Health Services Management Research. 24: 196-202.
  • Balding C,   ‘From quality assurance to clinical governance.’  Australian Health Review, vol 32, no 3, 2008.
  • Balding, C, “Embedding Organisational QI Implementation through Middle Manager Ownership”,  International Journal for Healthcare Quality Assurance, vol. 18, no. 4, 2005.
  • Balding, C, “Strengthening clinical governance through cultivating the line management role”, Australian Health Review, vol. 29, no. 3, 2005.