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New sensory modulation training on the horizon

Later this year Te Pou will launch a training package to support the mental health and addiction workforce to incorporate sensory modulation as a standard tool to help reduce, and eventually eliminate, the use of restraint and seclusion.

The training will provide guidance on the use of sensory modulation in the assessment processes, generally increase knowledge of its application, and will build on the train-the-trainer package delivered in 2021.

Development is happening in a collaborative process with the Sensory Modulation National Practice Group, Te Pou’s link with the workforce. The group has articulated a need across the motu for this type of targeted professional development.

The creation of this training package reflects both the established place of sensory modulation in reducing restrictive practices, but also recent changes in environmental and contextual factors:

  • The recently revised “Guidelines to the Mental Health (Compulsory Assessment and Treatment) Act 1992” emphasise the importance of sensory strategies for people experiencing mental health challenges.
  • The “Guidelines for reducing and eliminating seclusion and restraint” under the Mental Health (Compulsory Assessment and Treatment) Act 1992 speak to the role of sensory modulation.
  • The impacts of the Covid 19 pandemic and changes at Te Whatu Ora Health New Zealand have shifted the needs of localities in the implementation of sensory modulation.

A stock take of recent practice

Between 2012 and 2014, 21 sensory modulation trainings facilitated and led by Te Pou were held for Te Whatu Ora localities nationwide. In 2017, a stock take of sensory modulation implementation across localities was undertaken to inform future planning, with the following recommendations:

  • ensure sensory modulation is included in all standard assessment processes during admission, and subsequent treatment, care or recovery plans
  • ensure staff are motivated or confident in using sensory modulation through sufficient staff training as well as resources, dedicated time, and designated trainers
  • incorporate cultural approaches to match the needs of people accessing services
  • implement monitoring processes for the use of sensory modulation.

Other initiatives

Between 2019 and 2021 several further activities occurred:

  • provision of “1-day advanced sensory modulation training” to DHB staff, and evaluation of its impact
  • establishing a Sensory Modulation National Practice group
  • provision of a “2-day train-the-trainer workshop”.

The place of sensory modulation in the Six Core Strategies©

The Six Core Strategies© service review tool is an evidence-informed approach effective in reducing seclusion and restraint events.

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Sensory modulation is key among the approaches provided in Strategy 5 of the tool, and acknowledged as one to support people to reduce their levels of distress and overwhelm.

Learn more

Visit the Te Pou webpages on least restrictive practice to learn more about sensory modulation and its role in reducing and eliminating restrictive practices.

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