Families that have alcohol and mental health problems: a template for partnership working
Example from practice 3: Link to legislation, policy and procedures
Collaborative working must take account of the law and any related guidance and must be linked to local policies, protocols and procedures. Agencies that collaborated from an early stage recognised the importance of doing this explicitly. This helps staff who may be better versed in some areas than others. It reminds them of the wider picture and how this specific area of practice is in fact a local implementation of the expectations of various pieces of legislation and policy. These include: The Children Act 1989, The Mental Health Act 1983, The NHS and Community Care Act 1990, The Human Rights Act 1998, Working Together to Safeguard Children (1999), The Framework for the Assessment of Children in Need and their Families (2000), the National Service Framework for Mental Health (2000) and Fair Access to Care Services (2002).
Some agencies achieved this by locating specific guidance or protocols within the existing child protection (CP) documents, protocols or manuals.
Examples of these include:
- South Yorkshire ACPC;
Other agencies produced discrete protocols for working with families across drug, alcohol and mental health services. These make more sense to workers and parents when they are linked to mainstream policies and procedures. Examples include:
- Surrey’s protocol has a legal table setting out the wider statutory context within which it operates;
- Stockton on Tees reminds staff that "a protocol is a risk management tool”, putting a family-focused procedure into context for adult mental health workers;
- North Somerset’s Practice and Procedure Guidelines for Children whose Parents have Mental Health Problems are located within a flow chart for child protection, child in need and family support action -see example.
North Somerset Council March 2001 Children Whose Parents Have Mental Health Problems Flowchart
Some protocols were the result of new approaches to collaborative effort.
- Bolton has developed a Child Concern Handbook for all agencies working with children. This gives an overarching collaborative approach within which work with parents who have mental health, drug and alcohol problems can fit.
- Hillingdon mental health workers are given a number of indicators to guide them in their decision about whether an initial screening assessment for parenting and child related issues is needed.
- A flow chart has been designed to accompany the Westminster protocol. See example.
Westminster City Council - Adult and Children and Families Services Working Together: Planning and review
This protocol complements but does not replace ACPC procedures…This is an accompanying document to be used with the mental health assessment tool where there are children in the family….This protocol needs to be read in conjunction with your local ACPC Procedures.
Hartlepool Mental Health and Child Protection protocol
Monitoring and Training
Where significant risk involving the other service is identified, this will be recorded on mental health risk assessment forms or child protection section 47 enquiry forms. The responsibility for the compliance of the use of these forms rests with supervisors/team managers. Any difficulties with their use must be brought to the attention of the respective Service Manager. The Mental Health Service Manager and the Children’s Service Manager (Fieldwork) will ensure that the actions taken are appropriate, and will monitor any issues at the six-weekly monitoring meetings.
Wokingham District Council, Community Services Department protocol