Frequently Asked Questions | Network North

By: Network North  05-Apr-2012
Keywords: Mental Health

GENERAL INFORMATION ABOUT THE COMPETENCIES AND FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS  

How did the MHSOP competencies and e-resource packages come about?

The competencies and website were developed and designed by clinicians forclinicians working in MHSOP.  

They were conceived following an audit carried out by the Northern District Health Board Support Agency (NDSA) demonstrated that health clinicians completing a range of professional qualifications rarely had any specialist teaching regarding older adults experiencing mental health issues.  In addition, MHSOP in-service professional development was also found to be sporadic and often lacking in the learning of essential specialist knowledge and skills.  The audit concluded that this meant that clinicians undertaking work in a MHSOP rarely had any specialist knowledge, while the likelihood seemed low that they would be supplied with the skills/knowledge necessary to carry out their work by an individual service. 

In light of these findings, the NDSA funded a two part project, firstly, to identify the specialist skills required to work in MHSOP (the competencies).  Secondly, to develop an e-resource package that could deliver a sustainable, consistent and financially viable learning platform for these competencies to be disseminated across a large geographical area.  The second phase was jointly funded by the Northern DHB Support Agency Limited (NDSA) on behalf of the Northern Region DHBs and Whanganui DHB on behalf of the Older Adults & Rehabilitation Project Steering Group and the Mental Health & Addiction Network for Dementia Behavioural Support Advisory Service (CRDBSAS).

The competencies that were subsequently developed are formatted to synchronise with, whilst not duplicating, ‘Let’s Get Real’, the overarching competencies framework prescribed for all mental health workers in New Zealand. In addition, it is important to note that the competencies were developed to compliment and not replace individual clinician’s own professional competencies.  

Information for clinicians 

I have worked in MHSOP for 5 years; do the competencies apply to me?

It is important to note that the competencies are generic to all MHSOP workers and cover three levels:

  • Essential (this set of competencies act as an orientation to the specialist knowledge and skills required to work in MHSOP and are anticipated to be completed during a clinician’s first twelve weeks in a service),
  • Practitioner (these competencies are focused on the skills and knowledge expected of clinicians that have been working in a MHSOP for up to two years); and
  • Leadership (these competencies represent the skills and knowledge anticipated of a clinician who has been working in a MHSOP setting for more than two years). 

As a result, any clinician working in MHSOP, regardless of professional discipline or how long they have worked in a MHSOP, should be able to identify and gain guidance from the competency and e-learning package regarding potential learning goals. 

I have worked for over two years in a MHSOP and have done a number of papers at university related to older adult mental health.  Is there any point in me looking at this site?

It is still worth checking the competencies even if you have worked in MHSOP for a number of years.  You could use your annual appraisal as an opportunity to review the competencies and identify any that have not been covered in your previous learning.  You could then use the e-resource packages, the further reading section and/or conferences, workshops and supervision processes to attain the necessary knowledge to fulfil identified competencies. 

Do specific clinical disciplines have to complete specific competencies?   

No, the competencies are generic to all workers.  Please check with your service manager regarding whether your service requires demonstration of learning from this site and how any demonstration might be undertaken. 

Can completed competencies be used towards my professional development portfolio and/or registration?

It should be noted that the competencies and e-resource have been specifically designed as a resource for clinicians and students working in MHSOP.  It is hoped that they will give clinicians the confidence, knowledge and skills necessary to offer clients, families and whanau best practice treatments. 

It is anticipated that clinician’s might want to use the site, and their learning outcomes, as part of their on-going professional development and on-going registration commitments under the Health Practitioner and Competency Act.  Clinicians should consult with their service manager and/or professional leader as to how any learning might be recorded and verified before using this site in this manner.  

I am a manager of a MHSOP and would like to use the site to help all my staff obtain the competencies relevant to them.  How will this site help me and how do I check that staff members have completed their learning objectives using this web site?

As a manager you can use the seven real skills to help each member of your staff identify which competencies they need to complete and at which level (essential, practitioner, leadership). 

New members of staff should demonstrate that they have the skills and knowledge set out in the essential level of competencies.  Clinicians that have worked in a MHSOP for a period of time may choose to use their annual performance appraisal as an opportunity to review the competencies and choose specific ones to focus on over the coming year.  A practitioner could then choose to use a combination of the MHSOP e-resource web site, conferences, workshops and their own supervision processes to achieve their identified learning objectives.      

It is important to note that while individual services might have their own mandated competencies, the MHSOP e-resource site does not have a formal process for checking off skills and knowledge for each competency i.e. there is no exam process.  However, each competency and learning page has a number of questions attached to it.  These questions can be used by learners to guide their reading and by managers and mentors to check the knowledge a person claiming to have used the site should have been able to gain having read the available material. 

The manager/mentor can also use the questions linked to each competency page to aide their professional judgement as to whether information has been learnt to a sufficient level to sign off a competency.  For example, under the competency regarding psychometrics, a practitioner at the essential level is expected to be “able to outline some considerations when choosing and administering tests, for example, reliability, validity, norms etc”, while at the practitioner level they should be “able to interpret scores from psychometrics with consideration to one’s own professional scope of practice”.  These questions, with different levels of complexity, allow a manger/mentor to check a learner’s level of understanding and decide whether a competency has been achieved. 

Non clinicians working for MHSOP

I am working as a community support worker for MHSOP. How are the competencies relevant to me?

The competencies are generic to all MHSOP workers so include non clinicians.  Community support workers were part of the group that helped decide on the competencies and put together the e-resource package. Liaise with your manager/mentor about the competencies that are relevant for you.

Service users

I am currently being seen by a nurse and a doctor from my local MHSOP, how can this site help my care?

As a service user of a MHSOP you could use the e-resource site to gain knowledge about the specific condition for which you are being seen and best treatment options.  A good way to do this is to speak to your key worker about what the team are treating you for; you could use this information to look up specific diagnoses and best practice treatments.  Treatments could be social, psychological and/or physical, as in a drug treatment.  This knowledge will allow you to participate in your treatment more actively by asking specific questions about any diagnosis and the availability of best practice treatments. 

Carers/family/whanau 

My relative is being seen by a member of the local MHSOP, how will information on this web site help me and my relative?  

As with a service user, you could use the e-resource site to gain knowledge about the specific condition for which your relative/friend/partner is being seen for and best treatment options.  A good way to do this is to speak to the person’s key worker about what the team are treating them for; you could use this information to look up specific diagnoses and best practice treatments.  Treatments could be social, psychological and/or physical, as in a drug treatment.  This knowledge will allow you to participate in their treatment more actively by asking specific questions about any diagnosis and the availability of best practice treatments. 

NGO workers, care workers

I have worked as a carer in a rest home for the past 3 years, are the competencies relevant to me?  

Yes, while there are a range of qualifications for carers in rest homes to pursue, the competencies outlined on this web site have a great deal of relevance to all people working with older adults who might have mental health issues, regardless of the setting.  It is interesting to note that the people who helped design the web site included professionals from older adult care facilities and non-government agencies, specifically with the idea that their input would make this site useful to anybody working with older people who might be experiencing mental health issues.

Keywords: Mental Health

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