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Support worker reflective practice: Tautoko Tāne

  • Publication Date:

    09 July 2024

  • Author:

    Meghan Parr

  • Area:

    Addiction, Disability, Mental Health
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We spoke with Tautoko Tāne Aotearoa, a federal network comprising a national body and regional Member Organisations who provide support services to their local male survivor communities.

How many support kaimahi (lived experience and non-lived experience) does your organisation employ?

As at 31 March 2024 we employed 52 peer workers (32 EFT), all of whom have lived experience of mental distress and adversity.

How do you plan to provide opportunities for reflective practice for your support kaimahi in the near future?

Reflective practice is a key element of the Purposeful Peer Support Aotearoa (PPSA) framework. The framework elements together form a practice model which is designed to be applied in peer support work in a wide range of social, mental health and addictions settings. It includes a model for understanding the different stages or ‘seasons’ that relationships move through, based on the maramataka or Māori calendar – the autumn/ngahuru season in this model is designated “Reflective Learning”.

At Tautoko Tāne we are in the process of getting all our kaimahi up to speed with the PPSA framework through a training programme, launched at the end of 2022 and delivered so far to 65 people within the first 18 months since launch. At the same time, we have developed an e-learning module for new staff that talks them through the value of external supervision or reflective practice (all our peer workers are required to have monthly external supervision, one-to-one).

To support our workers in making reflective practice a fundamental aspect of our workplace culture, we are adding a 3-day Reflective Practice training course to the PPSA suite of education options. It is our intention that all of our peer workers will complete this course annually as a refresher course for our purposeful peer support framework.

Why do you think this way of providing reflective practice will work well for your community/organisation?

Our peer support kaimahi are all survivors of adversity and distress, and almost all are survivors of sexual trauma (as Tautoko Tāne exists to support male survivors of unwanted sexual experiences). You can imagine that power dynamics are a key consideration in our mahi, and by extension within our organisation.

For us, reflective practice is not just something that happens off-site once a month with an external supervisor, or with your line manager – we are aiming for a workplace culture that models and supports reflective practice for and between all colleagues. We want them to have frequent opportunities to reconnect with their practice model and training.

The intention is, through training first, to model what reflective practice looks like, and to reinforce the benefits for the worker, as well as the benefits for the people who use our service, and to the organisation as a whole. We also want our kaimahi to feel they have the skills to confidently reflect like this with each other as well as at external or line management supervision.

What would you say to another organisation thinking about trying to offer this kind of reflective practice for their support kaimahi?

To grow workers who can confidently make responsible and ethical decisions in the moment, takes more than just once-a-month group supervision or line management supervision. Frequent opportunities to reflect on action (after the event) means a better chance at developing staff’s ability to reflect in action (at the critical moment). It’s an investment in your kaimahi but also in the potential of your organisation to operate with trust and confidence in your front-line staff.

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