Evaluating integrated employment support in primary care

Publication date: 13 January 2014

Applying IPS in primary care

Workwise partnered with Midlands Health Network, Waikato Work and Income, Compass Health and Wellington Work and Income to establish an integrated employment support programme in a number of GP practices. The programme was the first time individual placement and support (IPS) principles had been applied in New Zealand primary care.

Te Pou formally evaluated the Hamilton programme to assess its feasibility, integration model and early outcomes. Te Pou also evaluated the Wellington programme.

Key findings from the evaluations included:

  • Integrating employment support services into general practices can effectively support people with mental health conditions to return to work.
  • The service is valued by GPs and provides an evidence-based intervention as an alternative to signing people off work.
  • Clients and GPs reported that clients’ self-reported hopefulness, confidence and motivation increased as a result of accessing integrated employment services.
  • Twenty-nine people found employment and eleven started accredited study in the first eighteen months of the Waikato service. Five people found employment and four started accredited study in the first nine months of the Wellington service.
  • Cross-agency and cross-sector partnerships can address the system barriers and inequalities that people with mental health conditions face in relation to returning to and staying in employment.
  • Agency and sector concerns around information sharing and privacy and consent need to be addressed to improve service delivery.
  • Employment and mental health is a whole-of-government issue. To implement and sustain these employment support programmes dedicated funding from both health and welfare is needed.