Members of the Work Counts team recently represented New Zealand at the 14th annual meeting of the International IPS Learning Community in Tennessee.

Strategic advisors, Helen Lockett, Warren Elwin and Implementation manager, Becki Priest travelled to the States on behalf of Work Counts and Northland District Health Board, to share our stories and bring back international learnings.

New Zealand joined the international learning community in December 2017 to improve our implementation of evidence-based practices in employment support and to learn from other countries. The process was led by Work Counts, in partnership with the Ministry of Health and Social Development.

The annual conference was the perfect stage to introduce the community to New Zealand. As part of this Helen and Warren presented on New Zealand’s IPS implementation efforts, gave a quick insight into our service system and took the opportunity to share stories of New Zealand and our culture. Warren also co-facilitated a workshop discussing cultural considerations when implementing the IPS approach.

Employment and recovery were the focus of the conference and included sessions on international updates, shared decision making, justice involvement, role of peers, opioid use and new research findings.

Separate to the conference the team met several organisations comparable to Work Counts including the Oregon Supported Employment Centre for Excellence and IPS Works from Western Australia. They also visited an IPS provider based in Nashville and the head of mental health services for the state of Tennessee, who has actively funded and is growing mental health and addiction employment support service provision in the state.

The experience was a great opportunity to share learnings and build strong international relationships.