Along with young people’s educational needs, health and wellbeing can sometimes take a back seat when children come into care – particularly if they have suffered some form of neglect. Young people’s physical and mental health may have suffered as a result of coming into care, particularly if there has been abuse or neglect leading to confusion, disconnection or feelings of abandonment.
There has been lots of research carried out into the link between children coming into foster care and mental health being negatively impacted and as such TACT have made a commitment to improving all aspects of our young people’s health.
In order to give our young people the best possible care and opportunities, we launched our Health Service in 2022 to provide our staff and foster carers with the support they need to meet all of our young people’s health needs in the best possible way. The Health Service is led by Coleen Lunt, who joined TACT with 20 years’ experience in the field of trauma across a variety of roles. We’re incredibly excited to be joined by someone from this background, who will ensure that as the service moves forward new practice and policies will reflect the organisations trauma informed values.
The service is still very much in its infancy and constantly developing, but some of the key features that have been developed so far include:
- Offering consultation to social workers, children’s support workers, foster carers and external agencies where appropriate, providing a level of clinical oversight which considers historical, current and potential difficulties for the child and the foster family unit. This provides a formulation of issues and identifies objectives for support which can be incorporated into the child’s plan.
- Providing Clinical Supervision to Children’s Support Workers (CSW’s) – we provide a therapeutic framework for the direct work that the CSW’s do with children using psycho-education and brief therapeutic strategies, which support with emotional and mental health difficulties. The Clinical Supervision offers support and guidance regarding the relational and emotional impact that the role has on staff and identifies areas for development.
- We attend multi-agency and stability review meetings, which offer support and guidance in strategies for our young people being cared for by foster carers, helping to reduce disruption and stabilise any problems that have arisen.
- Supporting with referrals to external agencies, ensuring that difficulties experienced, and the language used, are factual and fully formulate the reasons for the referral. This helps us to mitigate against referral rejection.
The Health Service has been running since October 2022, and in its first 4 months has completed 72 consultations with staff and foster carers across TACT who are working directly with young people. Reports have indicated the service has been a positive introduction and contributed to staff and foster carers feeling supported, understood and validated. Some of these consultations have led to referrals to external agencies such as CAMHS and reiterates why the service is committed to meeting the health needs of our young people in the best way possible.
“When TACT advertised the health role I was excited to see if I could be a part of an organisation that had made a commitment to becoming trauma informed. I was interested in helping TACT to develop a service from its inception to ensure that moving forward practice and policies reflect the organisation’s trauma informed values.”
Coleen Lunt, Head of Health Service
As well as this, we’ve implemented peer support for the CSW team to help share good practice and resources, engaged with our Children with Disabilities group to ensure children with additional needs are supported to the best of our ability and reviewed all current external therapies to ensure all are in line with TACT’s values.
There are plenty of plans for the next 12 months of the Health Service and we’re optimistic about the continued positive impact it will have on the health and wellbeing of young people cared for by TACT. Within the next 12 months we plan to grow and recruit more staff to ensure that the current good progress can continue. Ideally, staff with additional therapeutic qualifications who are able to offer consultation and direct therapeutic support to children and carers will be identified, allowing the service to develop further.