Health professionals workforce workshop

I wanted to thank you for inviting us to this workshop. It was one of the most informative workshops I’ve been to in a long time. Well done! Hopefully it will lead to a better connection with our local needle exchange.   – NEP Workshop participant – DHB Alcohol and Drug Specialist Services.

The workshop was designed and developed by Woodbridge Research. The workshop was a critical component of a wider research and development project. Workshop participants were senior representatives and clinical leaders, who are intimately involved in the current and future capacity of NEP in New Zealand. They arrived from the provincial and national offices in New Zealand’s Central Region (Wellington, Wairarapa, Palmerston North, Napier/Hawkes Bay and Wanganui), representing the following organisations: ACC, Accident & Emergency, Alcohol and Drug Services, Community Policing, Dedicated Needle Exchange, General Practice, NZ AIDS Foundation, New Zealand Prostitutes Collective, Pharmacy and The Pharmacy Society, and Sexual Health Services.

Overview of the workshop

This was the first time New Zealand hosted a workshop of this scale, and representing a diverse range of health services. The workshop concept was three pronged and focused on:

  • Up-skilling – promoting knowledge systems and best practice.
  • Networking and professional collaboration – maximising resource use within limited health budgets.
  • Targeting transmissions that result in poor population health – focusing on health promotion.

The workshop provided provided Woodbridge Research opportunity to better identify the limitations of current health service provisions, and where  workforce needs and wants were identified, and participants could voice their expert opinion surrounding best practice and their involvement with the needle exchange  programme. The morning, and the afternoon sessions were presented by Martin Woodbridge and guests from the Kirketon Road Centre (Sydney), respectively. The first workshop presentations, delivered by Woodbridge Research, considered the key issues from the study’s primary research, this surrounded:

  • The injection of drugs and the impact of that upon the NEP, its workforce partners and the health and well-being of IDU
  • A robust, New Zealand specific review of injecting, drug types and poly-drug use
  • A focus on communicable disease epidemiology
  • A discussion on hidden populations and health utilisation
  • A discussion on poor health and the complications of injecting drugs
  • The complications of needle fixation, methadone and treatment failure

The importance and practicalities of developing a networked and collaborative health system was emphasised through critical thinking and a dynamic interactive discussion. This was made possible because of the diverse group present at the workshop. The concepts of discussed in this part of the presentations were:

  • Health promotion in the modern world, brief interventions and community engagement
  • The evidence surrounding ‘the quadrant approach’ – the focal point of the health promotion and up-skilling resource developed by Martin Woodbridge
  • The concepts discussed in the first presentations of the day were well complimented by the second round of presentations delivered by Phil Tayler and Kim Scholey of the Kirketon Road Centre, Sydney. These included:
  • The KRC programmes on offer and their approach to professional collaboration
  • An overview and viewing of KRC’s One-Shot™ resource (preventing transitions into injecting, Hepatitis C prevention, and at-risk young people)
  • A ‘safer injecting’ seminar, covering anatomy and blood-borne virus transmission
  • Explanation of KRC services for sex workers – including KRC’s sex worker outreach programme

The workshop participants and pre-workshop contributors were both of great importance to the development aspect of the research. This included workshop discussions, annotations and a pre-workshop questionnaire, which helped tailor the workshop format. Time was scheduled throughout the day and specifically during an interactive multi-group discussion to allow for formal and informal talk. Participants were encouraged to talk freely about their services and what they can bring to Health and service development. The pre-workshop response rate, quality of discussion and then the positive feedback from the post-workshop evaluation was impressive.

Workshop Evaluation

The workshop evaluation was based on 13 questions surrounding the three workshop aims of up-skilling, networking and targeting transmission. 86% of workshop participants evaluated the workshop. The questionnaire aimed to explore the participants’ experience and what aspects they found beneficial or not.

Aim one: Up-skilling

The questionnaire explored participants post-workshop awareness and knowledge of terminology; the types of drugs injected in New Zealand; risk behaviours and consequences to health; and the complexities of safer injecting practices and preventing blood borne disease. 90% of workshop participants indicated high or very high to these questions.

Aim two: Networking

The questionnaire explored participants post-workshop experience and/or ability to network or form new potential collaborations. 90% of workshop participants indicated good or excellent to these questions.

Aim three: Targeting transmission

The questionnaire explored participants post-workshop awareness of the complexities of preventing communicable disease amongst people who inject drugs, the types of services available and required for priority populations; and potential health promotion activities etc. and knowledge of terminology. 85% of workshop participants indicated good or excellent to these questions.

General aspects: the questionnaire also considered the relevance of the workshop to participants’ day-to-day work; and, asked for comment on the effectiveness of the combination of presentations, discussion, feedback and debriefing during the workshop. 93% of workshop participants indicated good/high or excellent/very high to these questions. Participants also contributed a mix of written comments surrounding the morning and afternoon sessions. In regard to the morning sessions (by Martin Woodbridge) participants noted that:

  • The interactive discussion, the HCV update and epidemiology, networking/collaboration opportunities and the health promotion aspects were of real value
  • Comments were that the workshop provided “…potential inter-agency involvements”, and “… good networking opportunities”.

In regard to the afternoon session (by KRC Sydney) participants noted that The One-Shot resource/video, the safer injecting discussion and sex worker aspects were of real value, including the international perspective.

Conclusion & Recommendation

The evaluation results were very encouraging. Especially given the wide variety of participants represented at the workshop and their wide range of expertise in providing services to people who inject drugs. The evaluation confirms that the three aims of the workshop were achieved, and exceeding expectations. The evaluations suggest:

  • That participants were up-skilled and they improved their knowledge surrounding NEP and risk behaviours of people who inject drugs
  • The focus of the workshop allowed for and fostered teamwork and collaboration – with the ultimate aim of developing services
  • The research approach – which included a pre-workshop questionnaire and an interactive discussion by workshop participants – contributed to a strategic assessment of needs and wants for service development
  • That further research & development work in the area is justified. This might also include exploring opportunities to deliver further workshops that are targeted to similar audiences in New Zealand.

It is evident that the services represented continually want and need better and more up-to-date information, delivered in a timely fashion. The practicalities of networking and collaboration were addressed in the workshop and accompanying research. It is clear from the workshop participants that those organisations involved with the NEP could significantly advantage from more active participation, including working closer together.