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Blog: Mental health and addiction programme placement provides space to learn, grow and develop

Mental health & addiction quality improvement
29 November 2019

Grace Mua is a Bachelor of Social Work student at Massey University, who recently completed a four-month placement with the Health Quality & Safety Commission’s mental health and addiction (MHA) quality improvement programme. In this blog, Grace reflects on her experience with the Connecting care project, one of the five priority areas of the five-year MHA quality improvement programme.

Te tūhono i ngā manaakitanga, te whakapai ake i ngā whakawhitinga ratonga | Connecting care: Improving service transitions is about improving transitions in three areas:

  1. From district health board (DHB) adult inpatient services to DHB adult community services
  2. From DHB community services to primary care
  3. From DHB youth community services to DHB adult community services

During my time with the Commission, I learned about the aims of the project Te tūhono i ngā manaakitanga, te whakapai ake i ngā whakawhitinga ratonga | Connecting care: Improving service transitions, and was introduced to new quality improvement methodology.

There are three key themes in the MHA programme that really aligned with my values: unconscious bias, co-design and the idea of compassionate care.

Compassionate care is about bringing humanity back into health care. It asks the question – what truly matters to consumers, practitioners and health care services? By asking what matters, enriched conversations happen. Staff and tangata whaiora feel valued and listened to.

I learned about unconscious bias when I attended a full-day Connecting care workshop. It challenged me to be aware of my own beliefs, values and attitudes and how these influence my engagement with consumers. Equity has been also been an important aspect of my learning at the Commission.

Kaumātua for the MHA programme, Wi Keelan, and Anton Blank (who leads the unconscious bias work within the MHA programme) have helped me create a deeper awareness of my own values and how they shape my social work practice. The MHA programme recognises the importance of the cultural dimension. Staff learn about tikanga and kaupapa Māori and explore how they can apply this in their work.

I also had the opportunity to demonstrate my skills and assist with two workshops held for Commission staff to celebrate Mental Health Awareness Week (7–13 October). One was a sensory workshop with tea tasting and a sound game, the other was a mindfulness workshop with Māori art and mandalas. The workshops encouraged staff to slow down and become aware of themselves in the work environment as well as providing whanaungatanga as staff shared this experience together.

During my placement I was surrounded by passionate professionals who offered diverse skills and perspectives. I have really valued my experience at the Commission because I have had space to learn, grow and develop my strengths. I have been given a unique insight on how I can contribute to improving the quality of health care services.

Author: Grace Mua

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