Safe Practice Effective Communication

What is SPEC?

Safe Practice Effective Communication (SPEC) is a four-day, District Health Board (DHB) based national training course which supports best and least restrictive practice in mental health inpatient units. This four-day course includes training in restraint minimisation, communication, de-escalation, collaborative ways of working, and the teaching of personal restraint and breakaway techniques. All four days must be completed by participants, with the balance of content being focused on prevention and early effective communication.

Who governs this programme nationally?

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

SPEC Chair:

  • Jeff Hammond, Director of Mental Health Nursing and Central region representative.

Governance Board Members:

  • Stu Bigwood – Clinical Leader mental health facilities, CDHB; and Southern region nursing representative 
  • Anne Brebner – Director of Mental Health Nursing, CMDHB; and Northern region representative 
  • Michael O’Connell – Director of Mental Health Nursing, Lakes DHB; and Midland region representative 
  • Louise Travers - General Manager, Southern DHB, representing general managers 
  • Dean Rangihuna – Te Kaihapai, Maori Consumer Advisor and SPEC Trainer representative CDHB 
  • Kerri Butler – Director/Consultant, Take Notice, representative member of Te Huarahi O Te Kete Pounamu 
  • Dr John Crawshaw – Director and Chief Advisor of Mental Health – Ministry of Health 
  • Jane Bodkin – Chief Advisor, Office of the Chief Nursing Office, Ministry of Health 
  • Valerie Williams – Kaimanaaki, Te Roopu Mākohakoha, representing Te Rau Ora 
  • Kathy Moore – Nurse Educator, Ko Awatea, CMDHB and SPEC Master Trainer  
  • Caro Swanson – Principal Advisor - Mental Health & Service User Lead, Te Pou o te Whakaaro Nui and co-lead, Least restrictive practice project 

Te Pou o te Whakaaro Nui currently provides administrative support to the SPEC programme. Contact Rachel Kapeli if you have any questions. 

Who can attend this training?

Staff members who work in DHB mental health inpatient services.

Can SPEC Training be used beyond mental health inpatient services?

Some parts of the SPEC training programme such as least restrictive practice principles and communications skills training do have a wider application but there are also aspects of the training that only apply to an inpatient mental health setting.

At this time, you can enquire via your local DHB if they provide training opportunities for other areas of mental health and health services, and/or register your interest in future developments with the collaborative by contacting Jeff Hammond.

Can staff who attend a SPEC course train others?

No. Attending a SPEC course provides you with the skills to provide a best practice, least restrictive response in mental health inpatient services.  It does not provide the skills, authority or permission to teach SPEC to others.

How can I become a SPEC trainer?

There is a specific course and selection process to become a SPEC trainer and DHB staff who wish to become SPEC trainers can enquire about this via their local Director of Mental Health Nursing, or a current local SPEC trainer.