Ines Bruin is the Service Relations Manager at Pathways in Auckland. With several branches around the country, Pathways is the largest NGO mental health service provider in New Zealand. 

In her role Ines provides oversight for Pathways’ mental health and addiction services in the community. She also looks after “The Farm” which is a place where people with lived experience can gain skills working on the land and earn a certificate in agriculture, helping them into employment. Pathways also employs peers in the workforce whom Ines oversees.

NGO NESP Advisory Panel

Ines is a member of the NGO NESP Advisory Panel, which was set up to support NESP nurses, provide them with supervision and input, and help them connect with the wider mental health workforce. There are usually around eight people on the panel from a range of mental health and nursing organisations.

Ines has a history overseeing new graduate nurses at Auckland and Waitemata District Health Boards (DHBs) and has taught nursing at the University of Auckland, so joining the panel was a natural step for her when she began working for an NGO.

She says nurses working in NGOs can be at a disadvantage because they are lower paid and have fewer professional development options.

“They don’t have that critical mass around them and often they work alone so it’s very important they have opportunities to reflect with other nurses. It’s also more difficult for them to develop a portfolio which they need to progress along a career path.”

Why NGOs should encourage nurses to do the NESP programme

Ines believes having their nurses do the NESP programme is essential for NGOs because sometimes they can struggle to retain or attract staff.

“I think nurses in NGOs have fantastic roles and that the job satisfaction is so much higher, but working for a DHB tends to be more popular for both financial and professional development reasons.

“NESP is a way NGOs can provide nurses with a professional direction and help them link with people in DHBs whom they can approach for supervision or to develop their portfolio.”

But Ines says doing the NESP programme also makes NGO nurses much better at their jobs because they become exposed to more critical thinking, new learnings and improved professional relationships.

“They bring all this back to the NGO and that’s important because the NGO environment has changed. The work is often more acute now and we’re dealing with a lot of complexities, people with significant physical needs for example, many of whom are undiagnosed."

“So, it’s great to have a nurse on site who can work with these situations and engage with clinical teams because they can speak the same language.”

Mentoring and supervision

During her two-and-a-half years at Pathways Ines has mentored four NGO nurses doing the NESP programme. Often this involves helping them develop their portfolio which each nurse creates to provide evidence of what they’ve achieved in terms of competencies. They need this to begin working at Level 2. Domains include things like nursing care, professional development, understanding ethics and legal requirements. Portfolios include examples of work done and reflections or feedback from mentors and supervisors. 

“Supervision involves working and reflecting alongside the nurses, almost as a peer,” Ines says.

“This is particularly important when they are working on their own. They’re often new to mental health so mentoring is about socialising them into the mental health nursing world and context.” 

Ines encourages the nurses to do presentations for other staff telling them what they’re doing and what they’re learning. This gives nurses not doing NESP an opportunity to hear about the latest knowledge and practice and can lead to positive reflection and critiquing of the way things are currently being done.

One of the nurses Ines has supported through the NESP programme is Wendy Montgomery, who also works at Pathways. Read Wendy’s profile here.

Wendy wanted to do the NESP study so she could develop professionally and continue her education and Ines has supported her by organising supervision for her and providing advice as needed. Wendy completed the programme in 2017 but she and Ines keep in touch. 

“Wendy brought a lot back to her role though what she has learned on the NESP programme,” Ines says.

“She’s now got new ways of working, feels a lot more confident, and is much more aware of what’s happening out there in mental health nursing. I think she’s also better at looking after herself and her own wellbeing because of the study.”

Ines says that since doing NESP Wendy has developed a sensory modulation programme at Pathways and rolled it out across the service. She’s also created an improved note-writing framework for all staff.