National: Stockport, United Kingdom
Geography type: Mixed urban/rural
Population covered: Stockport has a population of approximately 286,800 people, this number is projected to increase over the next 5 years (Stockport JSNA, 2016).
Professional group/type of organisation involved e.g. acute, CAMHS, voluntary sector, primary care
Social multi-disciplinary team (MDT).
Details of initiative
The Stockport family model bases its MDT working on the principles of restorative practice. Developed initially in relation to those who had experienced crime, this approach seeks to help families deal with challenges and build relationships. Mainstream services such as social care, health visiting, school nursing, early years and early help are organised into three localities within their traditional disciplinary teams, with specialist teams such as youth offending and ‘Mosaic’ (drug and alcohol) services working across the borough and being ‘called in’ as required to reduce ‘hand-offs’ for families.
The programme consists of three interrelated elements:
- The adoption of a restorative approach to social work practice: delivering assessments and interventions that consider a family’s strengths and their vulnerabilities, as well as making efforts to ensure that families understand and take ownership of their role in the decisions being made by children’s services
- The creation of new structures and systems: alongside the integration of children’s social care and Integrated Children’s Services, the Stockport family model reorganised children’s services into three separate locality-based teams. It also made specific changes to case allocation systems and the way that cases are escalated and de-escalated between services
- Partnership working: at a strategic level this involved the development of a shared outcomes framework with partners and the secondment of partners onto the Stockport Family Innovation Board. Alongside this, individual staff from children’s services were linked to all of Stockport’s schools
Type of integration (vertical, horizontal, population)
The establishment of the Stockport family model as one multi-disciplinary service and the move to a locality-based model is the most visible and substantial change.
Challenges, successes, lessons learned and advice
There was a mixed response to some of the specific system changes introduced around case allocation and triage. Strategic staff and team leaders were hopeful that changes to triage systems (for example the introduction of senior social work practitioners within the Multi-agency Safeguarding and Support Hub) would begin to improve referrals. However, other elements, such as the removal of the dedicated duty team, led to concerns about caseload management for social workers.
Some staff, particularly within social work teams, reported that high workloads could present barriers to engaging in additional direct and restorative work with families. For example, 73% of staff surveyed agreed that they often worked over their contracted hours to cope with their workload in 2016, compared with 64% in 2015.
Cost benefit information