About us

The Work Counts team is made up of respected experts in the IPS field who have sector wide and international relationships. These include leading development centres, including the IPS Employment Center (USA), the Centre for Mental Health (UK) and Queensland Mental Health Research Centre (Australia).

They are a passionate team who believe that employment supports recovery and brings benefits for the person, employers and the health system when people are able to retain or return to work. 

The International IPS Learning Community

In December 2017, New Zealand joined the International IPS Learning Community to improve our implementation of evidence-based practices in employment support, to learn from other countries, and to share experiences. The process of joining the community was led by Work Counts, in partnership with the Ministry of Health and Social Development. 

The learning community has evolved over the past 16 years and now has members from the United States, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain, Canada and New Zealand. 

The community includes IPS trainers, mental health leaders, family leaders and employers who all work together to better the way employment support services operate to improve people's lives.

Meet the team

Helen Lockett
Warren Elwin
Adel Stephenson
Becki Priest
Lisa Martin
Richard Bell
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Helen Lockett

Strategic advisor

Helen started her career as an employment specialist in the UK and is now one of the world’s leading researchers in the IPS approach. 

Helen’s passion for making a difference is evident in the work she does within the health and welfare sectors. She provides policy advice for government agencies, the OECD and NGOs across New Zealand. She is also an international associate for the Centre for Mental Health (UK). Other strategic work includes leadership of the Equally Well initiative since 2014.

Helen is currently completing a doctorate at the University of Auckland, focused on improving vocational rehabilitation programmes for people with experience of mental health conditions.

Skilled at translating evidence into practice for organisations and practitioners, she enjoys seeing the positive benefits that employment brings for people.

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Warren Elwin

Strategic advisor

An experienced chief executive, Warren has spent over 20 years designing and leading employment support services and is regularly called upon to share his knowledge and expertise. 

Originally a social worker and employment specialist, he is an agent for change and enjoys taking a creative approach to making a difference within the sector. 

Warren believes that it is important to support and make links between organisations that share a passion for seeing improvements in the lives of New Zealanders, particularly those who experience mental distress and addiction issues.  

"It is an exciting time to be involved in the sector – working together provides the opportunity to make positive change for the future”, he says. 
 

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Adel Stephenson

Implementation manager

Adel loves developing systems and services to help people facing health challenges. 

An occupational therapist, Adel has extensive experience working in the mental health sector - from working in district health board mental health teams, to leading employment support services.

She has in-depth knowledge of theory and operational aspects and has co-authored papers on employment support service integration. Adel trained in IPS implementation at The IPS Employment Center, Rockville Institute, USA.

Her key strengths include supporting the establishment of employment services in new regions, workforce development and quality systems.
 

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Becki Priest

Implementation manager

Becki is one of the world’s most experienced IPS implementation managers and has extensive experience in setting up centres of excellence, particularly in the UK.

Becki led New Zealand’s first IPS implementation project in Auckland and Counties Manukau and is highly skilled in coaching people to apply evidence-based practice into their work  and organisational systems.

Becki is an occupational therapist who has worked across several areas of mental health since qualifying in 2002.

She is well connected in the international IPS community and is an international associate for the Centre of Mental Health (UK). Becki has completed over 80 fidelity reviews internationally. 

She is currently completing a master’s thesis through the Otago Polytechnic School of Occupational Therapy.

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Lisa Martin

Business support manager

Lisa is highly skilled at data management and reporting requirements in the employment support services sector.

She understands data and and the monitoring needs of leaders, teams, funders and ministries.

Lisa is a problem solver who is always looking to streamline processes to make things easier for those implementing systems.

Supporting people to get great results is what drives Lisa.

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Richard Bell

Trainer and fidelity reviewer

Richard started his career as a nurse and has extensive experience in the mental health sector across Australasia. For the last ten years Richard has led a successful employment support team in Auckland.

Richard is skilled in quality assessment and service establishment and was a key player in implementing employment support for Auckland District Health Board.

He has a passion to see people with lived experience of mental health issues achieve their goals and believes that everyone has a right to full participation within their community.
 

Testimonials

The intensity of this model really sets it apart. It’s a collaborative, community endeavour that achieves great results.

When the Northland District Health Board (DHB) had the opportunity to establish a pilot employment programme within its mental health and addiction service they knew it was important to use an evidence-based model that was proven to work.

Work Counts supported the DHB to develop an agile model of care, where the service works closely with local community providers to find employment solutions that work for everyone involved. Staff already understood the value of employment as part of recovery and rehabilitation, but needed help with training, implementation and integration of the IPS method within clinical services.

“Work Counts gave us guidance around establishment plans, recruitment and supervision of staff, as well as on-site support to coach new staff through tricky situations that made some employment situations challenging. Working with experienced employment specialists helped clarify how we planned and implemented the service, and set up ongoing monitoring and evaluation to measure its success.”

Ian McKenzie
General manager, Mental Health and Addiction Services
Northland District Health Board

To ensure employment is a priority for people who access mental health services you need a plan that engages everyone right across the health system.

Quality improvement was top of mind when Nelson Marlborough Health approached Work Counts about how it could improve its supported independent living work stream.  

Facilitated focus groups illustrated the importance of the need for targeted supported employment for people accessing our services, and their families. The process gave clear and practical guidance, and the momentum to improve our approach to keeping employment top of mind and a key part of people’s wellness plan.   

“We learned that although we were doing aspects of the Individualised Placement Support framework, we still had a way to go. We want our service to help people reach their potential, and that needs more than one passionate person to make it happen.  The IPS approach helps secure employment for people by helping to guide how our services can work together in a more integrated way. The more our system is integrated, the more we work as one team with one care/wellness plan – the better it is for the person at the centre.”

Jane Kinsey
General manager, Mental Health, Addictions and Disability Support Services
Nelson Marlborough Health