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Equitable Access to Wellbeing - Specialist Dual Disability Services Community of Practice hui

As a group, people with learning disabilities experience higher rates of mental health challenges. A small, but important part of the support for these people and their whānau, in New Zealand is the regional dual disability mental health services (both forensic and non-forensic).

On 29 and 30 November 2023, the Te Pou Equitable Access to Wellbeing team (part of the wider Disability Workforce Development team) brought these services together in Christchurch.

All participants brought energy and enthusiasm to the discussions, and we were grateful for their participation, despite the staffing challenges many services face.

The meeting was an opportunity to bring colleagues together, address common challenges, collaborate on the development of training and resources, and learn from experts.

  • Lived experience at the centre of practice: Lived experience experts presented on the co-development of mental health and wellbeing training and resources with and for people with lived experience of a learning disability. The group were interested in how to bed in co-development in all aspects of service design.
  • Autism support: Dr David Bathgate, Consultant psychiatrist, Te Whatu Ora—Southern and Gabby Hogg, Specialist ASD Consumer Advisor, Te Pou, delivered a development session on Autism, and the support and challenges for autistic people in Aotearoa, and internationally.
  • Equitable Access to Wellbeing framework: Dr Martyn Matthews (Consultant in Autism and Developmental Disabilities) Te Whatu Ora—Coast and Hutt Valley, conducted a workshop where the framework was tested as a tool to help evaluate the workforce's skills.
  • Developing training: Dr Maria Baby, Clinical Nurse Specialist, and Murray Gordon, Charge Nurse Manager at Te Whatu Ora - Southern, presented an outline of an upcoming training program tailored for staff new to their service, especially those with limited exposure to the dual disability environment. John Vogenthaler then led a workshop with participants to confirm the content and explore how it might be delivered. The group agreed to actively support the development of the training and were clear that it would have value to all people working with people with a learning disability.
  • Continuing professional development: Dr Henrietta Trip, RN, PhD (Otago) from the University of Otago described opportunities for professional development.

Reflecting on the hui, all attendees highlighted the immense value of networking and connecting. They were also clear that to drive change for people, there needed to be representation beyond specialist dual disability services i.e., NGOs, Whaikaha, and the other mental health and disability services that support people.

"I enjoyed all aspects of the two days."

"I loved seeing what people are putting into practice."

The group will meet again in the new year (online via the Whāriki platform, virtually and face-to-face) to ensure ongoing engagement. As suggested by the group, Te Pou will also expand its reach in the future. Stay tuned!

Te Pou delivered this hui to enhance the skills and mana of this small, but vital workforce and supporting this workforce is a key part of its broader Equitable Access to Wellbeing programme. For more details about the programme, and links to the Equitable Access to Wellbeing Framework.

You can also contact John Vogenthaler, Principal Advisor Disability –

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