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Safe Practice Effective Communication

What is SPEC?

Safe Practice Effective Communication (SPEC) is a four-day, Te Whatu Ora health localities based national training course which supports least restrictive practice.

The SPEC training programme and national collaborative was launched in late 2016.

The training programme was initially developed by Te Whatu Ora Health New Zealand Counties Manukau. It has since been adopted and adapted by other districts and focuses on ensuring national consistency in personal restraint training that is based on best available evidence and supports least restrictive practice goals. Led by the Directors of Mental Health Nursing (DOMHNs) and involving a range of other key stakeholders, the programme has a strong emphasis on prevention and therapeutic communication skills and strategies aimed at reducing restrictive practices.

Te Pou co-ordinates and supports the ongoing implementation of the SPEC training programme under the direction of the National SPEC governance group.

Who governs this programme?

There is a National SPEC Collaborative Governance Board that meets regularly to oversee the implementation and development of SPEC across New Zealand.


The SPEC logo

The SPEC logo design was a collaboration between Te Pou and the SPEC governance group. Elements of the design are representative of SPEC principles: person-centred, least restrictive, and trauma-informed approaches and are underpinned by principles of Te Tiriti o Waitangi.

The logo includes the puhoro pattern which is representative of calming ocean waters and the colours were chosen for their therapeutic properties. The pūtātara is an instrument customarily made from New Zealand’s small native conch shell, representative of communication. The shell grows to itself, with no restrictions. People often pause to listen to the ocean through a shell. Pausing, hearing and reflecting is something workers should do before considering the use of any restrictive practice.

SPEC hub

SPEC hub is an online platform designed to create a space to support key administrative functions, key communications and professional development across the national SPEC programme. The SPEC hub is hosted on the Te Whāriki o te Ara Oranga website.

To access the SPEC hub on the Te Whāriki o te Ara Oranga website, users must register with Whāriki. They will then be given access to the SPEC hub.

Key Contacts

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