Neami’s new framework for practice

11 July 2023
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The Collaborative Recovery Model (CRM) has been foundational to how Neami delivers services since 2009.

Over the last decade, it has helped us frame practice, focusing on person-centred coaching to assist people in their recovery journey.

The CRM was designed by University of Wollongong researchers to support the translation of recovery principles and research into service practice.

For Neami, adopting CRM as our model for practice signalled a commitment to evidence-based and recovery-oriented practice.

It provided us with consistency and structure in a sector where the work is often hard to describe, and it validated our belief that a meaningful life involves more than the absence of illness.

However, as with any program or approach, new knowledge and changing circumstances require us to reset our reference points and ensure our approach is appropriate and responsive to what is needed.

In 2019, we began an essential review, refresh, and redevelopment of our thinking, evidence base, and application of the CRM.

As a result, we have adapted and changed our thinking to reflect the service, societal, and knowledge shifts  occurring in Australia and across the world.

Review and development

Our review involved getting a sense of what is going on in the world and Australia now – understanding the gaps between service systems and societal issues; what people struggle with and the social-structural conditions they are disadvantaged by; and what helps people to live well.

It involved an extensive review of current theory and evidence relevant to our field.

It has also involved finding out what is going on for staff when they are out there doing the work; and what is going on for people who access our services – what matters to them, what helps and what they value about our approach.

And finally, it has meant sifting through and connecting all these aspects of knowledge and figuring out what they mean for framing what we do and how we do it going forward.

We took a transdisciplinary approach to theory and evidence review, including social, cultural, psychological, biological and geographical elements, while holding on-the-ground and lived experience perspectives as the means to make sense of what knowledge and evidence counts for our service contexts.

Collaborative Relational Practice (CRP)

The review process has resulted in the development of a framework for practice – Collaborative Relational Practice (CRP). It:

  • Is a transdisciplinary approach – bringing together theory and evidence from a broad range of disciplines and perspectives.
  • Centres lived experience and Neami service aims as the means for deciding what theories and evidence count for how we work.
  • Acts as a touchstone for practice – rather than a standardised set of methods.
  • Draws on an ecological systems perspective – recognising the interconnected nature of mental health and wellbeing to many other aspects of life.
  • Goes beyond ‘recovery from mental illness’ – recognising that people’s reasons for accessing support from Neami services are diverse.
  • Draws attention to the significant role of connection and care – the way we are with people, respond to people and work with people makes a difference.

Embodying CRP at Neami

The process to implement CRP as a framework for practice for Neami commenced in 2022 and is currently ongoing.

The aims are for CRP to act as a framework for everything we do.

Neami will embody the CRP as a way of knowing, being, doing and seeing. How the CRP supports service delivery and positive outcomes for our consumers will look different in the different contexts and service settings that Neami works in.

This will take time, and CRP is expected to be embedded in all  our services by mid-2024.

Work will then be ongoing to evaluate CRP in differing settings, respond to emerging contexts and knowledge, and prioritise continuous improvement.