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Focusing on family strengths

With social services, there can be a tendency to view people as lacking in some way. An alternative is to view people as having strengths, but the services and wider system are lacking. Pasifika Futures wanted to understand how people are taking active and positive steps to realise their hopes, dreams and potential. They also wanted to better understand the critical role that front-line staff (‘navigators’) play in working alongside families.

Pasifika Futures is the commissioning agency for Whānau Ora for Pasifika families, and was set up in 2013. Whānau Ora is a cross-government approach to services and support that empowers the family as a whole rather than focusing separately on individual family members.  It covers health services, social services, education and employment skills, and more.  As the commissioning agency, Pasifika Futures is responsible for overseeing a network of independent providers that engage directly with families.

We spent time with families and navigators to understand their experiences and stories. We learned that families make great progress towards their goals when everyone in the family is focussed on the goal. We also learned that when things don’t go as planned – such as a fridge breaking down - those are the times when a little bit of support can make a huge difference to the family. We learned about the skilled navigators who quickly build trust with families, and that time spent doing paperwork, whilst important, is time not spent with clients.

Pasifika Futures used the findings of our work in their 2016 Annual Report. Taking a uniquely ThinkPlace approach, we aimed to deeply understand the determining factors in people's lives that helped them to succeed the most. We also took a system approach and considered all the stakeholders (the funders, the organisations they fund, their staff experiences and the people who receive the service) to understand their views. This approach brought to life the value that Pasifika Futures delivers to those they engage with.

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