Matua Raḵi December 2015 newsletter

The long awaited Ministry of Health guideline for mental health and addiction services Supporting Parents, Healthy Children – Supporting parents with mental illness and or addiction and their children was launched at Southern DHB in late September. Southern DHB was chosen for the launch because they began their own Southern COPMIA initiative in March 2014 and have already begun the organisational change required to meet the best practice elements covered in the guideline.

Dr John Crawshaw officially launched the guideline at Wakari Hospital, Dunedin in front of a local audience and colleagues who had joined by video conference from across the Southern DHB region. Dr John Crawshaw has had a pivotal role in the development of these guideline, sponsoring the work from the outset and being personally involved from the beginning in developing the kaupapa for the work. The launch began with a warm pōwhiri from Te Oranga Tonu Tonga led by Hata Temo (Ngai Tuhoe) and Graeme Thompson (Ngati Awa, Ngai Tuhoe), followed by a brief introduction and welcome from the CEO of Southern DHB, Carole Heatly. Deputy commissioner Richard Thompson spoke next on behalf of the DHB and reflected both professionally and personally on the importance of involving children and families in the work that is done with individuals.  

Supporting Parents, Healthy Children provides a vision for a mental health and addiction sector that recognises the strengths, love and resilience that families and whānau have, while at the same time being clear that the sector also has a responsibility to ensure the health and wellbeing of children and families, and if necessary, protect them from harm."

At the launch Dr Crawshaw called for a paradigm shift in the way that adult mental health and addiction services work, with a need to move away from individually focused care to a more inclusive child and family focused approach. It was clear from his presentation that this work is very important to him in the context of his role as director of mental health, and he urged all present to use the guideline as a means to begin the required cultural shift. 

Anna Nelson from Matua Raki gave attendees a brief overview of the content of the guideline, while Jo Chiplan from the Werry Centre overviewed the next stage of work the workforce centres will undertake to support the implementation of the guideline.

Supporting Parents, Healthy Children provides a vision for a mental health and addiction sector that recognises the strengths, love and resilience that families and whānau have, while at the same time being clear that the sector also has a responsibility to ensure the health and wellbeing of children and families and, if necessary, protect them from harm. The vision behind the guideline calls for a mental health and addiction sector that:

  • is family and whānau focused 
  • takes responsibility for promoting and protecting the wellbeing of children 
  • makes the rights and needs of children a core focus of all that they do
  • employs a strengths-based approach that protects and strengthens parenting capability and builds the resilience of children 
  • provides interventions that are informed by evidence about what works 
  • provides services that are culturally safe and appropriate for all families and whānau 
  • finds, includes and when necessary, connects family and whānau to community supports and services ensuring a coordinated response to addressing the needs of the whole family and whānau 
  • provides a safe and competent workforce that is confident and able to recognise and respond to the needs of children and their family and whānau. 

Guideline structure

The guideline focusses on change at organisation, service and practice level and recommends a phased implementation over five years to 2020. It clearly outlines essential elements at organisational, service and practice level with a three year implementation timeline (Phase I to 2018). Best practice elements are envisaged within five years (Phase II). As such, this guidance is relevant to all levels and roles within the mental health and addiction sector including clinical directors, general managers, team leaders, practitioners, support workers and peer support workers.

Brief example

Organisational level elements
Phase I: Family and whānau focused implementation plans are in place.
Phase II: Family and whānau focused practice KPI’s are in place and performance against these is regularly audited and reviewed.

Service level elements
Phase I: A COPMIA champion is in place to support leadership, training, support and advice.
Phase II: Written pathways for support and treatment are available.

Practice level elements
Phase I: Conversations about children, parenting, family and whānau are routine.
Phase II: Family and whānau focused practice is embedded in all aspects of service delivery.

Starting from different places

The guidance in this document also recognises that mental health and addiction services around the country are starting from different places. Some may be more advanced in their family and whānau focused practice than others. As such a useful first step for many organisations and services will be to audit or review current policies and practice to identify specific strengths in relation to family and whānau focused work, along with areas for further development. 

You can download a copy of the guideline from the Ministry of Health website.

For more information about how the workforce centres can support you with the implementation of these guidelines please contact Anna Nelson at Matua Raki or Jo van Leeuwen at Te Pou

Read more of the latest news from Matua Raḵi  or download the full Matua Raḵi December 2015 newsletter.