Adults’ staff ‘should use CAF in family mental health cases’

Adults' social workers should be encouraged to use the common assessment framework (CAF) to improve support for families with adults who have mental health problems, the Social Care Institute for Excellence (Scie) has said.

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Adults’ social workers should be encouraged to use the common assessment framework (CAF) to improve support for families with adults who have mental health problems, the Social Care Institute for Excellence (Scie) has said.

The CAF was particularly useful in cases of children caring for adults with mental health issues, Scie said in an evaluation of the first year piloting of its “think child, think parents, think family” model.

The pilot areas in England and Northern Ireland found that the CAF – an assessment system for children who fall below statutory thresholds – allowed practitioners to take a holistic view of the family rather than focus on the children or adults in isolation.

The evaluation also found that the team around the child (TAC), a multi-agency process for supporting children with additional needs, helped practitioners involved with these families.

It said some of the pilot sites in England were now considering expanding TAC to “team around the family”, with professionals who work with the parent also attending multi-agency meetings about the young person.

Scie’s model is being piloted in five councils in England and all five health and social care trusts in Northern Ireland.

So far, greater progress has been made in Northern Ireland, thanks to the appointment of two full-time project managers. This includes the development of a set of outcome measures for the project and the development of a multi-disciplinary working agreement between children’s, mental health and substance misuse services.

In England, most sites had spent a large part of the first year developing project structures and signing off implementation plans, the evaluation said.

Implementation had proved difficult at some site due to competing demands and priorities. These included restructuring of local authority or NHS services, changes to senior management and proposed service mergers.

Practitioners also noted a need for more senior managers to sign up to the model, as well as a change to organisational cultures and people’s perception of their remit.

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