Handover | Issue 42 - July 2018

We welcome Patrice Dennis to the Te Pou whānau, our new lead for the Skills Matter and MH101 programmes. Patrice gives an update on the Skills Matter and MH101 programmes.

In my role as programme lead, I provide leadership for the successful delivery of MH101 and Skills Matter to support and improve the capability of the workforce responding to people with mental health and addiction issues. 

MH101 is a one-day workshop that is designed to increase the confidence of frontline government and social agency staff who will encounter people with experience of mental distress and/or addictions. It is now delivered to a variety of organisations and communities across Aotearoa. 

Skills Matter provides funding for postgraduate training for new graduates and existing practitioners, working in DHB, NGO and primary care settings. It is exciting to be leading two projects that have such a broad reach, from the community setting through to our specialist workforce.  

I have worked as a registered nurse in the mental health and addiction sector in Aotearoa for 15 years, in a number of nursing and education roles. Before moving to Te Pou o te Whakaaro Nui, I worked for Wellington Addiction Services. I have always been committed to working in partnership with people, their whānau and communities, acknowledging and valuing people’s personal experiences as well as my own. I am passionate about continuing to improve mental health care and understanding in Aotearoa. MH101 and the Skills Matter programmes are an excellent opportunity to be a part of that development. I have a Bachelor of Health Science (Nursing) and a Master of Music Therapy (Hons).  

Skills Matter programme update   

The 2018 academic year is well underway, and Te Pou o te Whakaaro Nui is supporting 308 students to undertake the Skills Matters programmes offered across the country. The NESP Nursing and Allied Health programmes play a key role in supporting new practitioners to develop essential skills as they move into practice. While existing practitioners are supported to develop their leadership and specialist skills, through postgraduate study in:  

  • Clinical leadership in nursing practice  
  • Co-existing mental health and substance use  
  • Infant, child and youth  
  • Cognitive behavioural therapy.  

One of our goals is to grow the number of health professionals from the NGO sector participating in the programmes, and how the new graduate programmes can also accommodate the primary care setting. This year, we are excited to have 35 students from the NGO sector participating in Skills Matter programmes. With more mental health and addiction care expected to be provided in primary care settings and NGOs as a single point of health care, this is a number we would like to continue to grow.  

In 2017, Te Pou conducted the annual survey of Skills Matters students to learn more about their course experiences and understand the difference the Skills Matter programme is making. The overall findings of the survey demonstrated positive results, with respondents reporting increased confidence in their clinical practice, working with whānau and feeling better equipped to work with tāngata whai ora  

The survey results also provided valuable insights into ways the Skills Matter programmes can continue to be enhanced to meet the needs of the workforce.  

The 2017 evaluation work was complemented by follow up interviews of students who obtained Skills Matter funding in 2016. This enabled us to look in depth at the longer-term outcomes of students’ practice, the impact on their organisations and on people accessing services and their whānau. There were 37 interview participants, and the interview team was joined by two cultural specialists, one Māori and one Pacific, who travelled around the country to interview 10 Māori and Pasifika students face-to-face.  

Participants identified several key learnings from their courses that they are continuing to apply to their practice. 

These included: 

  • a focus on therapeutic relationships and people-centred care 
  • the importance of reducing and eliminating seclusion 
  • the ability to carry out comprehensive assessments 
  • learning to take care of themselves in their work. 

These findings were encouraging and align with the commitment to grow a workforce that is recovery focussed, culturally capable, person-centred, and committed to the ongoing improvement of services.  

In depth survey and interview reports can be found in the impact section on the Skills Matter webpage: https://www.tepou.co.nz/initiatives/impact/154  

Going forward, we will be reviewing the Skills Matter programme in 2018. This is an exciting opportunity to liaise closely with key stakeholders to look at how we can maximise the relevance and impact of the training and deliver training opportunities that are responsive to the changing mental health and addiction workforce’s development needs, based on the needs of the population they serve. 

Skills Matter stories  

Go to our Skills Matter page and scroll down for a selection of stories from NGO nurses about the value of the programmes and how they’ve applied their new learning into practice. Quarterly governance group meetings will also be posted on that page.