Resource kit to follow successful MH supervision pilot

1 July 2010

Professional supervision increased confidence and improved practice, the evaluation of a Northland training pilot found.

The Northland DHB piloted a professional supervision training plan developed for mental health workforce training agency Te Pou.

The training plan grew out of new national guidelines for professional supervision, but following consultation Te Pou has decided there is not the demand or funding to roll out the training plan nationally.

Te Pou clinical nurse leader Anne McDonald said the sector was still committed to professional supervision and Te Pou would be developing a resource kit for boards to help implement the national guidelines.

But Te Pou was not funded to offer supervision training itself and the latest district health board feedback was that a national training regime was not a funding priority in the current tight environment.

“We’re hearing that there’s absolute commitment for professional supervision as it was needed to enhance outcomes for users of services and there’s absolute commitment for the use of the guidelines,” McDonald said. But she said a difficulty was that some boards were already a long way along the track and others were still beginning.

Alex Craig, head of the national directors of mental health nursing group, said they all knew quality supervision made a difference to patient outcomes and were supportive of Te Pou not nailing boards into a single supervision model. But the current tight environment meant difficulties in developing supervision in areas it was not already established in.

College of Mental Health Nurses president Heather Casey said the guidelines had been useful in identifying what was happening nationally and in supporting the argument for professional supervision – which was still not mandatory.

She added that the college was looking at an accreditation and credentialing programme for mental health nurses and this might provide an incentive for employers to ensure adequate access to professional supervision.

McDonald said over the next 12 months it would be doing a stock-take of how boards were currently offering professional supervision to find out what gaps the resource kit could help fill.

It would be asking boards how they are using the guidelines, whether the guidelines are being used as a benchmark for professional supervision and if not what were the barriers.

The Northland pilot involved offering training to 16 supervisor/supervisee pairings, creating a supervision coordinator position to assist with professional supervision, and a series of questionnaires and focus group discussions to evaluate the impact of the training and supervision process.

The evaluation found training and appointing a coordinator to be pivotal for successful professional supervision, and the benefits of supervision included increased confidence, less stress, and better service delivery.