Communication with children and families

Children, young people and parents/carers often feel uncertain about the processes of referral and assessment and the outcomes of discussions with mental health professionals about what help is available. Dr Warner-Gale’s study identified that they wished to be informed and active participants in their care.

Some parents/carers reported that they are made to feel inadequate, or that they are somehow to blame for their children’s mental health problems. Children felt that they were not listened to and indicated that they wished to be part of the decision-making process. It is therefore important for agencies to develop inclusive models of working to ensure that children and parents/carers are active partners in determining their care experience.




Methods for successfully improving communication with children and families

Ways of achieving this include putting children and families at the centre of their treatment and care process. Keeping them well informed about treatment options and choices, and dates and times of appointments will enable them to have a very active part in their care.

This can be done through their involvement in the care planning process or by drawing up contracts so they can have a role in and responsibility for their own care.



Case study: Headspace toolkit

Advocacy in Somerset has developed an online toolkit called Headspace. The toolkit is designed to help young people in inpatient care become more involved in the decision-making for shaping their care. The toolkit is a practical and accessible way of encouraging active involvement of young people in their own care. The website is age-appropriate in its content and design, as it was developed in consultation with young people in Bristol. For more information, visit the Headspace website.

Case study: CAMHS clinic waiting room

In Surrey, young people were involved in giving their CAMHS clinic waiting room a much needed makeover. This is an inspiring example of young people being involved in shaping what their care looks like.

Case study: Plymouth's plans for the Communication domain in late 2010/11

Plymouth plans to provide evidence of children and young people’s involvement in care planning and evaluation as part of their care record. This would be established through a PCT health record audit by 2011. Success under this intervention would be to achieve 95% of records in CAMHS to show a care plan developed and evaluated with children and young people aged 7-18.

Read the full case study in the Plymouth pilot site section.



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