DDN October 2020 ‘We have a unique role in breaking county lines’ - Page 10

FAMILIES

Positive signals

Giving families a clear and consistent route to help makes all the difference , as DDN reports

When

you work with families in an
uncoordinated way and you ’ ve
got lots of different professionals trying to address issues separately , it doesn ’ t work ,’ says Teresa Leitäo , senior policy advisor at the Troubled Families Programme . ‘ It ’ s very overwhelming for the family and can be quite ineffective for the services involved .’
Contributing to a ‘ parental alcohol and drug use ’ webinar , she shared experience from the programme , which had been designed to support families with multiple vulnerabilities – mental and physical health problems and other interlinked issues .
Services needed to work together to make referral procedures easy , spot problems early on , and put the right support in place as soon as possible , she said . This coordination would make it easier to measure data and track outcomes , and make sure that the right services were involved
– including bringing together the ‘ two worlds ’ of family guidance and substance misuse support .
Discussing adverse childhood experiences ( ACEs ) had resulted in some strong partnerships , said Sheena Carr , deputy head of the Children , Young People and Families Team at Public Health England . But we needed to consider that ACEs ‘ sit within a broader context of vulnerability ’. A public-health informed approach was helpful in looking at causes of inequality and circumstances where activity should be prioritised , she said , and making sure children had supportive networks around them was important in helping them to deal effectively with stresses they might encounter at home .
Dr Wulf Livingstone , reader in social science at Wrexham Glyndwr University , talked about multiple vulnerabilities which often overlapped – child protection relating to substance misuse , domestic abuse and mental health . Issues such as school exclusion , food poverty and the responsibility
of being a young carer – with maybe a parent that is entering end of care through drug and alcohol use – were bound to have an impact .
Often it was impossible to determine where the starting point was , or the trigger , and ‘ it ’ s probably not helpful to look for whether or not one causes the other ,’ he said . But we could be sure that ‘ merely the stopping of substance use in itself is never really a solution … if that ’ s all we concentrate on we will probably just return people to the very difficult situation that they live in without a coping mechanism .’
Strength-based interventions were vital instead of ‘ negative , deficit-based conversations ’, with screening tools used whenever possible . The other really important element – as the previous speakers had said – was to work inclusively with the entire family , even if work took place independently with different members . Putting this time in would help to kick-start the appropriate interventions and
‘... you ’ ve got lots of different professionals trying to address issues separately , it doesn ’ t work .’
TERESA LEITÄO
identify the ‘ practical day-to-day barriers ’ to progress , such as no food on the table or a leaky bathroom – things that needed to be solved to create the capacity for change .
10 • DRINK AND DRUGS NEWS • OCTOBER 2020
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