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CDHB healthcare provider improves learner engagement and knowledge retention

The Canterbury District Health Board (CDHB) is the main healthcare planner, funder and provider for New Zealand’s Canterbury region. This includes primary, secondary and tertiary service provision. The CDHB is also the largest employer in New Zealand’s South Island, employing over 9,000 people across their services.


The CDHB were delivering a number of staff training courses through an existing open source learning platform that offered little in terms of high-level reporting and tracking. This lack of visibility over how learners were performing and what training was being completed was a major source of frustration for the organisation.

The CDHB were also conscious of inefficiencies in carrying out time-consuming manual processes, required due to the lack of functionality in their existing learning management system.

The Solution

While looking particularly to resolve issues around lack of visibility and training process inefficiencies within their organisation, the CDHB has furthered leveraged Totara Learn to grow training effectiveness and reach.

CDHB lms Totara Learn


Called healthLearn, the CDHB’s LMS implementation is used proactively to upskill staff in competency-based requirements, such as medication management and the basic initial training that all nurses are required to complete. In this way, Totara Learn is assisting the CDHB to meet key strategic and auditing requirements.

Totara Learn is flexible enough to be a key tool in more reactive situations, such as during potential infectious disease outbreaks or when dealing with an influx of seasonal illnesses. In these types of circumstances, both the speed and effectiveness of training and education delivery are obviously paramount.

Covering a diverse geographical area from Ashburton to Kaikoura, the previous predominantly face-to-face training model has been significantly streamlined. Today, the CDHB makes use of online pre-learning modules to cover theoretical knowledge requirements and face-to-face video conferencing to better link learners from locations Canterbury-wide.


Due to the recognised value of this LMS implementation, it is planned to expend the scope to an additional four district health boards. Together, these health boards form the South Island Alliance; working collaboratively to develop more innovative and efficient health services across the entire South Island.

healthLearn has also enabled the CDHB, in conjunction with the Nursing Council of New Zealand, to provide training to other external health services that would not normally have access to district health board systems. Examples include general practitioner medical clinics and rest homes.

This scalability is being achieved simply by utilising the ‘guest’ access standard functionality available within Totara Learn.


The CDHB now has the ability to track, monitor and report on course completion and learner performance. Totara Learn also contains functionality that enables positions and roles of different learners within any organisational hierarchy to be defined, providing information on the particular training that any individual learner should receive and the skills they are required to be proficient in. Once the CDHB has completed their integration with this part of Totara Learn, their managers and corporate service staff will have full visibility over all training activity, including any outstanding training needs.


Totara Learn has the ability to also provide the CDHB with the ability to integrate training information with their HR systems.


  • Over 6,000 enrolled users organisation-wide, plus a further 5,000 guest users from external health services.
  • Responsive, agile and effective training delivery across the organisation and wider South Island.
  • Significantly improved rates of learner engagement and knowledge retention.
  • Increased efficiencies and cost-effectiveness in the delivery of distance and face-to-face training.
  • Functionality to enable full reporting and tracking, and data integration with internal HR systems.
  • Strengthened linkages between staff across geographically diverse areas.
  • Excellent learner feedback.

"We were previously unaware of what Totara Learn could do, but here we are delivering training much more efficiently and getting better value for money. We have found that both learner engagement and knowledge retention have increased significantly."

Neil Hellewell, Nurse Educator – Professional Development Unit, CDHB

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