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Let’s get real as a foundation to working in a mental health and addiction service in Aotearoa New Zealand

We talked with Evelien Post, mental health service manager, PACT Lower Northern Region

“When I moved to New Zealand from Malawi, Eastern Africa in late 2019 I had to give myself a crash course in New Zealand culture and systems. My role requires me to look after a wide range of services across the Lower Northern Region so I was looking for resources that would help me transition and become familiar with the needs of our services, and the people we serve as quickly as possible.

I received the Let’s get real framework booklet during my induction to PACT. All new employees to PACT receive the Let’s get real framework when they start. The framework is really well integrated into the induction process whether you are a support worker or a manager, you all start from the same basis. The booklet, in particular, provides a nice overview of everything from policies and standards, to how we engage with the people in our care, and is written in a way that is appropriate for all different audiences.”

How have you used Let’s get real as a manager of a health service?

“As a manager I need to be able to strategise and ‘take the temperature’ of my services so I know where to put attention to help them improve. The Let’s get real framework supports me to identify where development opportunities exist so that I can set priorities and know where to direct resources that will grow my teams in the right way.

Aspects such as Working with Māori and Working with whānau are key pillars in our work, so PACT uses the seven Reals Skills to help inform workforce training and education. The Real Skills are written in a strengths-based way to speak to all of our workforce, no matter what their education background is. This is particularly important for our support worker workforce who may only just be starting to work towards a formal qualification.

I also use Let’s get real in professional development conversations as part of our yearly professional development cycle. It is a really good tool for staff who are not sure where they want or need to develop, to encourage honest reflection and self-evaluation about where they think they are against the seven Real Skills. Some roles, especially clinicians have their own professional competency frameworks, so when it comes to technical development they have something to measure themselves against. This doesn’t really exist for support workers and service coordinators, so Let’s get real can help guide development conversations in line with value driven sector standards of practice.

Personally, I really like the three levels within the Real Skills – essential, enhanced and leadership. I am most interested in the leadership direction and to understand what I need to do to uplift our services, so I use it for myself as well.”

What would you say to other health service managers about Let’s get real?

“It is just a really great resource. I think it is very important that we are all using the same language and we are all aware of the values, attitudes and Real Skills needed to improve outcomes for people with mental health and addiction needs. Being aware of these foundational elements supports us to have more joined up thinking on where we want to take the sector both regionally and nationally. So from that perspective, I would definitely encourage other services to adopt Let’s get real so that we are all on the same page.”

- Thanks Evelien

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