ABACUS Counselling Training & Supervision Ltd

Nominee/entrant details

ABACUS Counselling Training & Supervision Ltd

Organisation details

Size: 50-99 staff

Industry: Other Services

Organisation background

ABACUS Counselling Training & Supervision Ltd is a private company operating since 2002 and specialising in the field of supervision, communication skills training, research, education, evaluation, resource development and related project delivery. ABACUS has four directors who are all registered health professionals with considerable experience of supervision of professionals. ABACUS provides a team of approximately eighty-five Professional Supervisors throughout New Zealand, all of whom not only have supervision experience but also considerable experience in the field of health, social sciences and allied fields.

Executive summary

Kāinga Ora Homes and Communities has nominated ABACUS Counselling Training & Supervision Ltd for this award as they have shown outstanding performance in implementing the Professional Supervision Wā Manaaki programme for our people. ABACUS has gone the extra mile to make Wā Manaaki a success. From successful implementation of the service using a partnership approach, making calls to 547 individuals over lockdown to encourage uptake and achieving 97% satisfaction overall for those engaged in supervision. The professionalism of ABACUS supervisors is clear and feedback from participants in the service has been uplifting, they feel cared for and listened to.

Background on situation and opportunity

Our people at Kāinga Ora are working and interacting with customers who may be living in difficult situations and facing challenging environments daily. This can, at times, impact our people’s wellbeing. Although support options such as EAP were in place more proactive support could be provided. This led to the identification of a gap to provide access to qualified professionals who our people could engage with, to review, reflect and develop tools and behaviours to enhance their day to day work. ABACUS Counselling Training & Supervision Ltd was selected to provide the Professional Supervision Wā Manaaki service to our people.


After ABACUS Counselling Training & Supervision Ltd was selected following a detailed procurement process, they worked in collaboration with Kāinga Ora to design the Wā Manaaki Professional Supervision programme. Kāinga Ora has relied on the extensive supervision experience of ABACUS to navigate the complicated implementation issues and to ensure the support provided to our people would be the most effective. Core questions such as “should the service be mandatory” or “should we offer individual as well as group supervision” were more easily resolved due to the extensive experience of ABACUS. Service requirements were established at the start of the contract which included measures of success such as: • An annual satisfaction survey to be completed by ABACUS • A minimum of 80% satisfaction level (a level of 97% was achieved for the first annual reporting period) • Detailed reporting including monthly, quarterly and annual reports • Quarterly and annual business reviews between contract managers for both parties. All of the above service requirements and additional measures included in the contract have been met or exceeded.


The rollout of this programme was led by a Kāinga Ora project team in partnership with ABACUS. This was a new programme for Kāinga Ora and ABACUS went above and beyond to embed the service within Kāinga Ora by: · Providing choice – our people choose to match up with any ABACUS supervisor with remote sessions enabling appointments with supervisors in different locations, our people can also easily change supervisors to find the best possible fit; · Providing a diverse pool of supervisors, which has grown alongside our needs. Since the go-live date, because of the demand and satisfaction of our people with the service provided, ABACUS has increased their available supervisors from 48 to 76 · Offering both group and individual sessions · Offering flexibility in the delivery of sessions which can be held in person (at Kāinga Ora or Abacus facilities), over the phone and video conferencing. · Holding forums every eighteen months where Kāinga Ora representatives are invited to present to supervisors to update and connect. · Collaborating to provide clear messaging on the purpose and benefits of Professional Supervision that was tailored for Kāinga Ora. ABACUS maintains a range of safeguards to ensure that risks to health and safety are identified, addressed and reported promptly, to exceed the requirements of the Health & Safety at Work Act, 2015. ABACUS evaluates the quality of service provision through a range of monitoring activities and prides itself on its relationships with the team of Professional Supervisors. All ABACUS Professional Supervision consultants have tertiary professional qualifications, training in supervision, they have membership with professional health bodies, and have their own professional supervision. The criteria applied to ABACUS supervisors qualifications and experience has given us confidence that ABACUS are providing an appropriate and high quality service to our people.

Engagement and communication

Early communication approaches undertaken by Kāinga Ora and ABACUS to advertise the service included: • Regular email communications to our people with a focus on “What’s In It For Me” • Promotion via Kāinga Ora Health and Safety Representatives, People Leaders and Health and Safety Advisors • A suite of videos featuring people within Kāinga Ora who had previous experience with Professional Supervision and an ABACUS Supervisor. The service started in December 2019 with the rollout of the first group sessions. Meet and greets were held where ABACUS supervisors visited Kāinga Ora offices around the country and gave our people an opportunity to meet them prior to their first session At the start of the Level 4 Covid-19 lockdown in March 2020, many of our frontline people had not yet experienced an individual session. ABACUS supervisors made contact with 547 of our people via cold calling which resulted in a dramatic uptake in individual sessions and supported our people to prepare for working remotely during lockdown. ABACUS conducted a nationwide 16-question survey of Kāinga Ora people in customer facing roles during December 2020. All responses were collected anonymously. Around half of those approached responded to the survey. Some survey findings: • 57% indicated they received supervision • 97% satisfaction overall for those engaged in supervision • 86% of supervisees assessed the ability of their supervisor as excellent or good.


Feedback from our target audience has been uplifting, they feel cared for and listened to. 75 respondents to the 2020 Kāinga survey chose to anonymously leave comments in addition to their survey answers. A common trend was people noticing the significant benefits of sessions. Some comments follow: “At first I was against this whole Professional Supervision. Because to me, my understanding of this was it was talking about things, similar to counselling. However it is nothing like counselling. So I chose my supervisor based on her description about herself not her qualifications etc. She stood out to me as a real person I knew I could speak with and I saw her as a friend.” Someone I CAN speak with. I am so happy my instincts were correct because my first session, we hit it off, getting to know each other etc. Then each session became easier and easier, and it was helping me become a better person and doing my job better.” “I have really enjoyed supervision with [my supervisor], she has been awesome, allowing me to pretty much brain dump when I need it and get things off my chest, also she has been great with discussing ways to improve the way I approach issues and really step back to understand the way people react. thoroughly enjoying my time spent in Wā Manaaki and highly recommend people take the opportunity.” “Keep up the good work. It has definitely helped me in ways that I wouldn’t expect.” “I have found my professional supervision amazing, for life work career progression has been so insightful. She has given me so much knowledge in just overall everything! Highly recommend for others who are not using this yet!!!


ABACUS has worked hard to ensure a wide range of supervisors to meet the diversity of our people. Kāinga Ora has provided information regarding ethnic diversity of their people and Abacus has been working over the last eighteen months towards matching the choices of professional supervisors to ethnic representation within Kāinga Ora. Abacus has in this time, added 12 new Maori, Pacific and Asian supervisors, and will be continuing to increase this to reach full representation. ABACUS has been delivering an NZQA Level 6 Certificate in Supervision since 2014. This certificate has been evaluated and achieved the highest standard and offers an opportunity for Abacus to encourage participants through a supervision programme to support their prior experience, and develop the model of supervision that fits with their culture. NZQA evaluation processes closely monitor the inclusion of Treaty of Waitangi principles, and biculturalism embedded in practice, policies, programmes and services. In addition, these processes offer an opportunity to identify outstanding and appropriate course participants who meet the criteria of Abacus contracts and contributes to a pathway for supervisors from a wide range of ethnicities who are excited about further growing their supervision practice. As a part of that, they have an opportunity to potentially support people of their own culture who are often new to the value of professional supervision as a support in their roles and careers. ABACUS provides a workshop for all its supervisors every 18 months. This provides an opportunity for Abacus to offer manaaki to its supervisors and for all to focus on how to best develop their practice and support their supervisees. Central to this is a half-day bicultural workshop focusing on bicultural principles within supervision. This was a very highly rated session in the previous workshop and a further session is in the current workshop.

Innovation and creativity

ABACUS and Kāinga Ora worked together to provide a proactive rather than a reactive response during COVID-19 lockdown periods. When this initially started in March 2020, Kāinga Ora and Abacus contract managers met on a weekly basis and strategised about the best ways of supporting Kāinga Ora people, and continued to review this throughout that period. As described, Abacus supervisors contacted all Kāinga Ora people (547 at that time) and offered professional supervision support. This involved creative approaches, including encouraging conversations to take place in cars at times, for example, to obtain privacy in the home environment, and pushing the boundaries in the context of COVID to offer supervision in different individualised ways, rather than a standard approach. A further example of this was, instead of the contracted hour a month, brief sessions could be provided weekly as an anchor, to provide well-being checks and any other aspects that were negotiated as important for the particular supervisee. Comments regarding this were in the survey and a comment follows: “Thank you! My PS has really helped me through what many of us would call an unprecedented year. He's helped me navigate uncertainty, he's been a neutral platform that I have come to value. I was almost forced to take up the opportunity and now find myself looking at my calendar and counting the days down to my next session. Especially when work gets a little tough, and the end of year approaching, patience for everyone is a little thinner and the fuse a little shorter - I find much relief in going to a neutral sound(ing) board who listens intently and offers perspective and alternatives. We've established that he does not give advice but alternatives and that's really cool! [My supervisor] is absolute Gold) Thanks Kāinga Ora for making this happen.”

Supporting materials (optional)

Photograph of key staff (optional)

Link to video (optional)

Referee details

Alison Penfold, Director (ABACUS Counselling, Training & Supervision Ltd)

027 293 3633 • [email protected]

Key contact

Naomi Hosted, Manager Technical Response Team, Safety Support and Wellbeing (Kāinga Ora Homes and Communities)

021 274 9358 • [email protected]

6 Months
Since posted
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