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Relationships count – person centered wellbeing support in general practice


Susan Heather Copas ,

Auckland District Health Board, NZ
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Oliver Campbell

Auckland District Health Board, NZ
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As part of a new localities approach to healthcare Auckland District Health Board, in partnership with ProCare (a Primary Health Organisation) undertook extensive engagement with the Tāmaki community in East Auckland, New Zealand to understand what was important to people in this locality. High levels of stress in the community emerged as a key issue, and prompted a focus on mental health and wellbeing. Three calls to action from the community also provided impetus for how services might work better together to support people in Tāmaki.

Be person-centred: “We want to feel involved, at the centre of a support process. Recognise and work with us as whole people in our families, whānau and communities.”

Be collaborative: “We want integrated and seamless services, work together to achieve this.”

Be caring: “Invest in building good relationships, develop caring ways of working with us and each other. We want understanding, trust and commitment.”

Together we created a vision for how people in the locality want to experience services.

“Our vision is an experience of mental health and wellbeing focused on the wellness of the whole person in their family, whānau & community, over the whole of their life, supported by integrated services that are relevant to Tāmaki.”

This vision provides the foundation for a number of change initiatives. In this presentation we profile one innovation - a more integrated approach to mental health and wellbeing support in primary care. A number of general practices, three mental health NGO service providers, local social services, and community people are working together to prototype new relational ways of supporting people’s mental health and wellbeing. Co-design and a facilitated action learning process provide all stakeholders with a ‘trial and refine’ learning agenda and an inclusive way of working together that is building understanding and collaboration.

The focus of the work in this prototype is on experience and relationships. Building relationships between people and services, building relationships between those who facilitate and deliver services, and building a better understanding of how people experience services and what matters to them. As Shane, a local service user put it, our emphasis is not on the “same old, same old” structural /operational solutions and change (although these need to happen and will emerge) but on relational solutions and change. This is the point of difference of this prototype.

The ongoing initiative is beginning to effect culture change in how the participating general practices and the NGOs deliver support. We are seeing a move from the transactional and segmented language and practice of ‘referral’ (to another service) to the more relational and holistic language and practice of ‘introduction’ (to a support person and process). Stemming from this philosophical base, different approaches to connecting support around a person are emerging and this is resulting in more valuable experiences of support and better outcomes for the people of Tāmaki.

How to Cite: Copas SH, Campbell O. Relationships count – person centered wellbeing support in general practice. International Journal of Integrated Care. 2017;17(3):A48. DOI:
Published on 11 Jul 2017.


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