Priority 4: Make Sure Staff Have the Right Skills and Knowledge

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Staff training for trainees and existing workers should systematically include young people in its design, delivery and evaluation.

This might include:

  • Role-playing with recovered / recovering young people. This can involve re-enactment of the types of situations that the young people encounter when unwell. The worker / trainee must then attempt to offer support and the young people feedback on what was good and bad about it. These sessions could be video recorded to help further learning.
  • An opportunity to talk to young people about their experiences. Look to ensure there is the opportunity to be in contact with a range of young people of both low and high risk, and to ask questions about their experience of services
  • Creating a mind map of difficulties that the workers or trainees think that young people might encounter. The group could then discuss how they should react and offer support during the situation and gain feedback from the young people.

It’s important to make sure high and low risk young people are given the opportunity to be involved in training. Make sure that young people are comfortable with what is involved and who they are working with. Organise a preparation session and a debriefing session, and offer a point of contact after the session.

See our case studies for ideas about how to involve children and young people in staff training and recruitment:

Case Study 1: TEWV Trust North East

The TEWV Trust were keen that participation activity should be of crucial importance and approached YoungMinds for support to develop young people’s involvement in service devlopment within the Trust. To this end an agreement was reached for the Partnership and YoungMinds to develop a network of participation champions over an initial period of six months.

During this period, participation training was piloted with the champions and the Hear by Right framework for young people’s particpation was used to identify some of the key strengths as well as barriers that were preventing staff from moving ahead with young people’s involvment. Gradually staff began to share their ideas for increasing participation and as a result many more young people’s voices are beginning to be heard!
The participation network has continued to operate beyond the initial six month period under the stewardship of a new leader and champions.  In addition to this, young people from various participation groups across the Trust have recently held their own conference focusing on specific issues raised by the young people including improving waiting rooms and increasing the use of “problem-free talk” within the Trust.

Young people now regularly attend the Participation Champions group and give direct feedback. One of the top tips to emerge from these activities is that you don’t have to set up a participation group to increase participation: you can do loads on a one-to-one basis to make sure that you’re getting good quality feedback about your service.  Using message boards in the waiting room to capture people’s views has also been a big help.

Case Study 2: Off the Record, BANES

CAMH services were retendered in BANES, Swindon and Wiltshire (currently an CYP IAPT project site) and out of that process came the identification of a need for young people to be involved in training CAMHS staff; to involve them better in the design, delivery and development of the service.  There was also a real desire for young people to be able to give practitioners the opportunity to experience in some small way what it is like to be a young person going through the system.

As a result of this, local young people and a rep from the VIK panel as well as workers from OTR and YoungMinds came together in Bath to look at lots of different participation training activities that could be used to train CAMHS professionals to work with service users to involve them in helping to shape their service.  One of the activities in particular that young people and CAMHS professionals felt had a real impact on their practice was ‘The Disaster Game’.  This is an experiential activity that puts people in the place of someone who has been in a disaster: isolated and confused participants experience some of the emotions that young people feel when accessing CAMHS, in particular, for the first time.

In total, seven young people trained 37 CAMHS staff across four locations, giving them some understanding of what accessing services is like as well as some understanding and practical skills to be able to go and do real participation work themselves.

The young people involved found the process really empowering and their confidence really grew over the course of the sessions. By session two and three they were able to challenge the staff and this led to some really exciting discussion. Staff felt that they had learned stuff that they could put into practice and have gone onto develop their own projects. For example, staff have begun to work directly with local young people to involve them in recruitment, development of information for young people and the planning and delivery of a workshop for service users aged 5 and up to gather their views.

It stimulated a more direct engagement from CAMHS staff. They now appreciate the value of directly involving young people in the development of the services. They have found a way for participation to work. The staff got excited and inspired by the training because the young people are inspirational!

Case Study 3: Staff training and development in Berkshire

Dr Charity Tawodzera, Systemic and Family Psychotherapist in Slough CAMHS, reports on staff training and development in their region.

We are currently undergoing a training programme with Berkshire CAMHS to allow the service and treatment to reflect the wants and needs of their service users more effectively.

Young people have been recruited from the South East regional VIK network to plan and deliver training sessions for staff at Berkshire CAMHS.  The planning has taken place through communication with Berkshire CAMHS (about the perceived needs of their staff) and CAMHS service users to determine the most productive areas to work on.

The training has given young people a chance to feel empowered and to recognise that they have the right to have a say about their service.  The CAMHS service has benefited through being able to plan their service user involvement for the coming year and being able to ask young people questions about areas of concerns.

It can be difficult for staff to feel that they have all the knowledge and skills to develop participation and they often have to change the cultural practice within their teams to be more responsive to the needs of their young people.

Top tips:

  • Participation starts by listening to young people and showing them that their thoughts and ideas are valuable.
  • Young people are experts by experience and they will have plenty of ideas on how they could get involved.

Case Study 4: Designing a training package in Surrey

The YoungMinds participation training package was developed with young people from the VIK pannel as well as with the help of the CYA participation group from Surrey CAMHS. The CYA group, as an established participation group of CAMHS service users, were able to review the material that the VIK group had gathered and give their thoughts as well as ideas for change. They were able to use their first-hand experience of what it’s like to be a CAMHS service user to help make decisions on what the training package should include and add further ideas for demonstrating their experience to staff.

This involvement allowed the service users to have their say on how staff should be trained around the county and feel valued for their experiences.  The experiential nature of the activities allowed the service users to say ‘this is how I felt’ and ’this is how it could be communicated to staff’.  It was a simple and effective way of utilising the service users’ experiences to inform services.

Top tips:

  • Young people are not only able to give their thoughts and feelings on the specifics of services but they’ll also be happy and able to tell how participation could be done.
  • There are many good examples of effective CAMHS participation groups such as CYA.  These groups are often happy to share their experiences and ideas of how you can develop your participation network.

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