Think child, think parent, think family: a guide to parental mental health and child welfare
Putting it into practice - background
To get away from producing another set of recommendations in this area without putting them to the test, SCIE decided to support the implementation of the original ‘Think child, think parent, think family’ guide in five English local authority areas, and all five of the Health and Social Care Trusts in Northern Ireland. From September 2009 – September 2011 in the English sites, and from September 2009 – March 2012 in Northern Ireland, practice development managers from SCIE supported the sites to develop whole-family working along the lines of the guide’s key recommendations. The work has been evaluated by a SCIE research analyst, and the learning has been captured in the interim evaluation report (SCIE report 44) and the final evaluation report
In Northern Ireland, two full-time project managers ran the project, supported by an administrator. The project was overseen by a regional steering group, and local implementation was carried out by five Project Locality Teams. Work in each of the English sites was led by a project steering group, including representatives from adult mental health and children’s social care services. The groups also often had representatives from the voluntary sector, child and adolescent mental health services and young carers’ services.
In the English sites, implementation activities focused on:
- awareness raising and consultation via staff and service user consultation events, newsletter and e-bulletins, lunchtime learning sessions and staff briefings
- making strategic links with other initiatives such as Hidden Harm and young carers strategies
- workforce development and training, for example by including Think Family in existing induction and safeguarding training
- reviewing current working practices to assess compliance with the guide
- changes to care pathways, for example amending the young carers’ Care Pathway to integrate it with the Common Assessment Framework process.
In Northern Ireland, the project managers undertook a number of regional pieces of work, including a multidisciplinary working agreement between adult mental health, children’s and drug and alcohol services, and a knowledge and skills framework. They developed a set of outcomes and performance measures for the project and collected service user views on a large scale using an online tool called Sensemaker.
The English sites each received £10,000 from the Department of Health to assist with implementation. It was used to fund things like:
- project manager/administrator support
- service user involvement activities
- the development and circulation of communication materials
- venues and refreshments for stakeholder events.
The work in Northern Ireland did not have a budget additional to that for the project managers and administrator. The implementation project took place at a time of budget cuts and restructuring in many public services. The ring-fencing of governmental Think Family funding was ended in this period, and key funding streams to support people with mental health problems, such as parenting programmes and Public Service Agreement (PSA) 16 funds, were reduced or stopped.