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Te Ara Oranga wins Workforce Innovation Award

Northland DHB Mental Health & Addiction Services (on behalf of the Te Ara Oranga steering group) were presented with the Supreme Matua Raki Workforce Innovation Award last night at the Cutting Edge Conference dinner in Rotorua.

The award recognises innovation in work practices contributing to workforce development and wellbeing, with a connected approach central to the supreme winner’s successful community initiative to positively change the lives of tāngata whai ora.

This year’s Cutting Edge conference theme was 'It’s all about Connection’ and applications were assessed based on the following criteria - innovation, impact on the Workforce and transferability.

Te Ara Oranga has established new referral pathways from Police into treatment, which offers people treatment much sooner. The methamphetamine police team works on both supply and demand operations by targeting dealers for enforcement action and referring identified users into health services.

“We are now able to engage people in treatment earlier in their trajectory of substance use,” said Ian McKenzie, general manager, Mental Health and Addiction Services, Northland DHB.

“We have a 24–48 hour response time for all new referrals, whereas prior to Te Ara Oranga it was typically three weeks.”

Another key component of the strategy has been the creation of Pou Whānau Connector roles across Northland.

“Pou Whānau Connectors provide assertive community outreach to engage those who are treatment avoidant and they also work with whānau who very often also need support.”

A one week pilot in June 2017 helped guide the establishment of a full-time methamphetamine, alcohol and other drugs Screening, Brief Intervention & Referral to Treatment position in Whangarei Hospital’s Emergency Department. Operational since January 2018 the screening is assisting clinicians in diagnosing patients who would benefit from drug and alcohol intervention or treatment.

Te Ara Oranga also funds two employment specialists in the Kaipara, who help clients experiencing addiction with alcohol, methamphetamine and other drugs into paid work.

When they commenced, Northland DHB was the only DHB in NZ trialling employment specialist help for clients using methamphetamine in a rural setting.

“Work lengthens the wellness periods of people experiencing addiction and shortens their unwellness periods as well as breaking the cycle of depression and low self-esteem,” Ian explained.

“In work you are engaging with people, taking your mind off addiction and giving them focus, hope, inclusion, sense of purpose and income,” Ian said.

Effective engagement and collaboration between Police, Health and communities was achieved by consultation and co-design with Te Tai Tokerau communities to develop models of care and resources to meet the needs of Northland which reflect the community.

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