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The importance of home visits

The Importance Of Home Visits

[email protected]


…the lives of vulnerable people


…the staff who work with them


…how services work together


Does your skills, knowledge and capabilities include ‘A Questioning Culture’ for Child Protection


Why do we undertake home visits?

What are the reasons/purpose for the home visits?

Office based visits v’s home visits?

What your experience of home visits?

How do you plan for your home visits? (be honest?

Assessment framework
Assessment Framework




Ensuring safety

Emotional and behavioural




and promoting


Emotional warmth





Family and social


Guidance and boundaries

Social presentation


Self-care skills




Family history &




Family’s social



Wider family

Planning and anticipation
Planning and Anticipation

Family/Parent Factors

  • What do we know about history?

  • What form does aggression take?

  • Towards whom?

  • Other factors – Mental health, substance misuse, DV

  • Triggers caused by us – threat of loss, kept waiting, discourteous behaviour, invasion of territory

Planning and anticipation1
Planning and Anticipation

Context Factors

  • Office, home setting, safety,

  • Route, environment

  • Exits

  • Other members of staff

  • Lone working policy

  • Where to sit in room – door, objects

  • Contact phone

  • NB where is the child in this?

Planning and anticipation2
Planning and Anticipation

Intimate family space

  • Progress – door, hall; living room kitchen, bathroom/toilet. The importance of movement

  • Main stage– back stage (not just the front room)

    ‘A core aim of child protection is to reach an understanding of the child’s world, experience and well being and to respond accordingly’

Planning and anticipation3
Planning and Anticipation

Worker Factors

  • Always ensure you are safe – update your training

  • Is there a risk assessment in place?

  • Alone or co-working? Code/method?

  • Agreed areas - managing the unexpected

  • Anything that could be a trigger factor?

  • If scheduled arrive on time!

  • Use your instincts - is it OK to feel scared?

  • Know the impacts you may experience and manage them? What can I do about it?

  • Can you and have you talked about this in supervision?

Planning and anticipation4
Planning and Anticipation

Personal Factors

  • Personal issues

  • Confidence in self

  • Confidence in process

  • Confidence in co-worker

  • Confidence in organisation

  • Can you acknowledge fear

  • Preparation

Getting through the door and staying there
Getting through the door (and staying there)

Know why we are visiting – e.g. assessment

Making judgements

Negotiable and non-negotiable factors

What factors may influence the outcome – may go wrong and have to go back.

Be authoritative not authoritarian

Language – clarity, role, expectations, consequences (not threats), benefits

Empathy and reflection on parent’s underlying feelings, alongside responsible childcare

An assertive, confident, and caring approach

Getting through the door and staying there1
Getting through the door (and staying there)

Understand why they are uncooperative

Keeping relationship formal but warm

Clear indications the work is focussed on child(ren)

Clearly state your professional and/or legal authority;

Continuously assess motivations & capacities of parent/s to respond cooperatively in interests of child/children;

Confront uncooperativeness when it arises, bringing it back to the reason for being there

Establish written agreement - include areas of resistance/ uncooperativeness, your expectations regarding them.

Assertiveness and other skills
Assertiveness and other skills

  • Pitch between aggressive/passive, formal/warm.

  • Respect yourself and others equally

  • Clear goals and outcomes

  • Say if you don’t know or don’t understand

  • Listen to and acknowledge other people’s points of view even if you don’t understand

  • Empathy not aggression

  • Maintain scepticism and respectful uncertainty

  • Broken record – listen to what other says and then if you don’t change your mind repeat statement ‘ Yes I’ll take that on board but can I remind you/come back to’

  • Find 3 Yes questions ahead of difficult questions

Its not working
Its not working

  • Stay alert to underlying resistance

  • Be willing to take appropriate action to protect the child/children

Prevalence of uncooperativeness resistance
Prevalence of uncooperativeness & resistance

  • 75% of families in analysis of SCRs characterised as ‘uncooperative’.

  • Resisting services or not receiving the services that they needed?

  • “What may appear to be resistance may be evidence that the services families are receiving are not fit for purpose”

    (Faith & Shemmings, C4EO)

Keeping the child central

Children cannot wait indefinitely for their needs to be met!!

When parents needs are in conflict with their children’s needs, this increases the vulnerability of the child.

Parenting Ability v’s Parenting Capacity

Keeping the Child Central

Focus on the child
Focus on the child met!!

“The failure of all professionals to see the situation from the child’s

perspective and experience; to see and to speak to children; to listen

to what they said, to observe how they were and to take serious

account of their views in supporting their needs (is) probably the

single most consistent failure in safeguarding work with children”

Ofsted’s evaluation of 50 serious case reviews between

April 2007 and March 2008

Building Safety & Strengthening Families Practice Framework met!!




ℴ Detail re: incident(s)Bringing the family to the attention of the agency.

ℴ Pattern/history

ℴ Strengths demonstrated as protection over time

ℴ Pattern/history of exceptions

(Gray Area)

Next Steps

Strengths/Protective Factors

Current Ranking

Risk Statements

(Immediate Progress)Safety/Protection Required


ℴ Assets, resources, capacities within family, individual/community

ℴ Presence of research based protective factors


ℴ Risk to child(ren)

ℴ Context of risk



ℴ Development of next steps relevant to risk context

ℴ What

ℴ Who

ℴ When

ℴ Etc.


Complicating Factors

Purpose/Focus of Consultation



ℴ Condition/behaviors that contribute to greater difficulty for the family

ℴ Presence of research based risk factors


ℴ What is the worker/team looking for in this consult?



Enough safety to close

Partnering: Action w/family in their position: willingness, confidence, capacity

Child & Family Services/(Lohrbach)

Why is this approach useful

Helps us to engage with children, young people and their families about their worries/concerns but also what is going well for them (strengths)

Organises and structures our thinking in a logical manner from the huge amount of information we gather from various sources

Helps us to be proactive not reactive

Enables children, young people and their families to problem-solve their own issues/difficulties to make sustainable changes which will lead to better outcomes

Why is this approach useful?

Why is this approach useful1

Ensures that professionals are honest, fair, objective, inclusive and transparent

Professionals have to justify their concerns and be accountable for them

Professionals have to use language that makes sense to children, young people and their families

Less likely to have families who are resistant or reluctant

Ensures not to just concentrate on the deficits/negatives (as you will only just get more of this)

Evidenced-informed practice

A good tool to use after your visits

A good tool to use before, during and after meetings

A good tool to use in supervision

Why is this approach useful?

Lasting change is more likely to happen when you find out what’s working and help people figure out how to do more of it

People are more likely to behave/think differently when you work with their goals for change

Rapid change or resolution can happen when people hit on ideas that work

Put simply

What needs to change? what’s working and help people figure out how to do more of it

How will you/other agencies/child/yp/parents/carers/other people know things have improved enough for us to Exit but only when it is safe to doso

Think about children and young people daily experiences

Put Simply!

How families avoid

Be welcoming what’s working and help people figure out how to do more of it

Stage manage visits

Avoid home visits and attend office/clinic

Restrict or refuse access

Failure to attend mtgs

Remove children from school/nursery/day clinic

Families move

How families avoid?

How families avoid1

Avoid being in for visits/refuse to answer the door what’s working and help people figure out how to do more of it

Lie about child’s whereabouts

Directly threaten professionals

Pressure on non-abusing adult not to report or say anything

Family tells professionals what they want to hear

How families avoid?

How families avoid2

Asking for housing move hence professionals becomes distracted

Parents/carers discuss their own difficulties and needs

Child is scape-goated

Parents/cares makes complaints

Family questions professionals credibility to undertake their job

How families avoid?

How families avoid3

Playing agencies against each other distracted

Leaving the TV on

The presence of animals

Allowing their mates to be present

How families avoid?

Levels of co operation a spectrum
Levels of co-operation – a spectrum? distracted

  • Not co-operative

  • Low co-operation

  • Neutral /some co-operation

  • Co-operation

  • V cooperative/persistently seeks help

Analysis and professional judgement

A Child Developmental Needs distracted must be based on knowledge/research of what would be expected of the child’s development. Are their concerns about the child’s development in relation to the dimensions?

Are we protecting the child from maltreatment?

Are we preventing impairment of children’s health or development?

Analysis and Professional Judgement

Analysis and professional judgement1

Parenting Capacity distracted should be draw on knowledge about what would be reasonable to expect a parent to give their child which ensures that the child is growing up in circumstances consistent with the provision of safe and effective care

What’s missing?

Capacity and prognosis for change?

Can the parent change within the child’s timescale? (Safety over time)

Analysis and Professional Judgement

Analysis and professional judgement2

Family and Environmental Factors distracted should be drawing on knowledge about the impact these will have on both parenting capacity and directly on a child’s development.

Is the accommodation suitable/accessible for a disabled child?

Impact of poverty/hardship/isolation?

Who else is in the family/extended family that could help/ support? (It takes a village to raise a child-African saying)

Analysis and Professional Judgement

Significant harm

Under Section 31 Children Act 1989 as amended by Adoption and Children Act 2002

‘harm’ means ill-treatment, impairment of health or development, including seeing or hearing the ill-treatment of another

‘development’ means physical, intellectual, emotional, social or behavioural development

‘health’ means physical or mental health

‘ill- treatment’ includes sexual abuse and forms of ill-treatment which are not physical

The question of ‘significant’ has to be compared to what could reasonably be expected of a similar child

Significant Harm

Signs of safety
Signs of Safety Adoption and Children Act 2002

  • What are we worried about? (past harm, future danger and complicating factors)

  • What’s working well? (existing strengths and safety)

  • What needs to happen/change? (future safety)

  • Scaling (0-10)

    10 means there is enough safety

    0 means situation is dangerous

Engaging children young people and their families include

  • Working ethically and with consideration for consent and confidentiality

  • Understanding behaviour

  • Interviewing

  • Questioning

  • Observation

  • Listening

  • Summarising

  • Accurate empathy and reflective listening

  • Giving constructive feedback

  • Challenging

  • Working for change and positive outcomes for all


Be ‘respectfully uncertain’ Adoption and Children Act 2002

Do not just be a passive recipient of information

Can you critically separate the story given from the actual reality?


Culture safeguarding

Discrimination is an everyday reality. Our job is to ensure that we do not reinforce that reality and therefore our professional job is to treat people with respect and fairness regardless of non-visible or visible differences (refer to the Culture Map)

No culture supports the abuse of children or young people

Every child or young person living in the UK is entitled and has the right to be given the protection of the law regardless of his or her background. The basic requirement is that children or young people are kept safe is universal and cuts across cultural boundaries.

Never make assumptions about what you see

Always question your own prejudices and assumptions. What evidence do you have?

Culture & Safeguarding

Culture safeguarding1

What is your understanding and experiences of working across different cultures?

How do you know if some aspect of a culture is illegal?

Always check out with the child/YP and family what their cultural norms are to avoid making any judgements, which are based on stereotypes.

Lord Laming said that we should be ‘respectfully uncertain’ and do not just be a ‘passive recipient of ‘information’ when working with people.

Culture & Safeguarding

Culture safeguarding2
Culture & Safeguarding different cultures?

All staff working with children and young people should seek advice about what practices are acceptable and which are not within a particular culture to ensure that there are no significant harm concerns and/or a criminal offence has not been committed within UK law.

Some individuals will use the word ‘culture’ or their circumstances (e.g.poverty, relationship breakdown, class) to justify child abuse or neglect.

All children and young people have a right to grow up safe from harm and ill-treatment.

Child abuse affects all groups to which children belong:-

-all social classes

-all genders

-all ages (including pre-birth)

-all abilities

-all cultures and ethnic groups (including white children)

Why we lose sight of child yp

Professionals don’t believe the child’s account different cultures?

Child/YP is fearful of the professionals

Professionals like the parents ‘they are a nice family’

Child/YP has no verbal communication

Parents appear nice and plausible

Child is fearful of being removed into ‘care’

Professionals are frighten of the parent (s)

Why we lose sight of child/YP

Why we lose sight of child yp1

Professionals don’t believe the child’s account different cultures?

Child/YP is fearful of the professionals

Professionals like the parents ‘they are a nice family’

Child/YP has no verbal communication

Parents appear nice and plausible

Child is fearful of being removed into ‘care’

Professionals are frighten of the parent (s)

Why we lose sight of child/YP

Intervention different cultures?

Who is going to do what, when and how?

How are we going to measure progress and ensure life is better for the child/YP?

Exercise different cultures?

Child/YP’s Needs


-how will we know that this will improve or get better for the children(improving their lives)

Helping children talk
HELPING CHILDREN TALK different cultures?

Working with children the fairy and the wizard

Indicators of poor outcomes
Indicators of poor outcomes different cultures?

Disruptive or anti-social behaviour

Overt parental conflict or lack of parental support/boundaries

Involvement in or risk of offending

Poor attendance or exclusion from school

Experiencing bulling or discrimination

Special educational needs


Indicators of poor outcomes1
Indicators of poor outcomes different cultures?

  • Disengagement from education, training or employment post 16

  • Poor nutrition/poverty

  • Ill-health

  • Substance misuse

  • Aniexty or depression

  • Housing issues

  • Pregnancy and parenthood

Model of change tony morrison
Model of Change Tony Morrison different cultures?


Sustaining and internalising

New behaviours


Rehearsing new



Weighing up pros and cons

Start of change process


Return to some or

all old behaviour.

Give up

or try again



Defensive, denial,

Projecting blame, depressed,



Six stages of contemplation
Six stages of contemplation different cultures?

  • I accept that there is a problem

  • I have some responsibility for the problem

  • I have some discomfort about the problem and my part in it

  • I believe that things must change

  • I can see that I can be part of the solution

  • I can see the first steps towards change.

    (Calder, forthcoming)

A scale for assessing motivation
A scale for assessing motivation different cultures?

  • Shows concern and has realistic confidence.

  • Shows concern, but lacks confidence.

  • Seems concerned, but impulsive or careless

  • Indifferent about the problems

  • Rejection of parental role

Tac taf
TAC/TAF different cultures?

It takes a ‘Village’ to raise a Child

T e a m
T.E.A.M different cultures?



Early Years

Health Visitor




Young Person






Children Centres






Asking the right questions
Asking the right questions? CHILDREN AND FAMILIES LIFE CHANCES

What are the needs of this Family?

How can WE help and support this Family- stay as a Family?

Who needs to be involved and can help make changes with the family?

Possible roadblocks

What are the possible road-blocks to working together?

How can the road-blocks be addressed? Solutions?

Put simply1

  • What needs to change or be improved?

  • How will Families and you know that things have improved or are better for children within their timescale?

  • Who and What will tell us ?

Getting plans to work

It is the plan that is developed where everyone involved knows clearly what needs to remain the same/change, what needs to be achieved, what needs to be different within what timescale, with clear actions that are measurable (SMART)

Children and their families are integral to this process. We must think and work differently in how we negotiate with children and their families

Review the plan

Any review needs to consider:

Have there been any changes since the last time we all met?

What progress has been made?

What difference has been made-have you made progress towards, or achieved, the differences you or the family hoped for?

Do we need to consider other options?

Scaling and goal setting

  • What are the child/rens goals?

  • What are the parents/carers goals?

  • What are the agencies goals?

    0-No engagement/no progress made

    10-engagement/progress made which is real and meaningful to the child’s safety and well-being

Karen is a 32 year old mother who has 7 children by 6 different men

She is unemployed and living on a council estate

Karen had a difficult upbringing, frequently truanting school. She had few aspirations and borderline low intelligence

At 14 the relationship with her mother broke down and she spent time in and out of the care system

She had a string of failed relationships, based upon heavy drinking, smoking and violence

The home was often dirty, dishes piled up in the sink, dirty washing on the floor

House was often full of ‘friends’ who stayed until the early hours drinking and smoking

Social Services contacted on numerous occasions by family, neighbours and school staff

Services attended the property by appointment, giving Karen chance to clean the property and prepare to adopt the caring parent image

Children were placed on the CP Plan, which called for Karen to be constantly supervised because of her ‘inability to successfully place the children’s needs above her own’

How would you support this family? different men

  • Just over a year later the children were removed from the Plan as they were deemed no longer at risk and step down to a CAF

  • Children continued to present at school dirty and unkempt with matted hair

  • Karen was manipulative and refused to engage in support services

  • There were no support services engaging with this family

(Karen Matthews) different men

Shannon Matthews different men

A national framework for change
A National Framework for Change different men

Following the inquiry into the death of Victoria Climbie, Lord Laming’s recommendation made clear that child protection should not be separate from policies to improve children’s lives as a whole

Information sharing
Information Sharing different men

Almost every child death enquiry since Maria Caldwell has never criticised professionals for sharing relevant information but they have for NOT…….in a timely manner!

Who can give consent
Who can give consent different men

Children aged 12 and over, consider age, understanding, maturity (consider Lord Fraser judgement)

Information sharing1
Information Sharing different men

  • Whilst the law rightly seeks to preserve individuals privacy and confidentiality, it should not be used (and was never intended) as a barrier to appropriate information sharing between professionals. The safety and welfare of children is of paramount importance, and agencies may lawfully share confidential information about children or the parent, without consent, if doing so is in the public interest.

    Lord Laming

Information sharing2
Information Sharing different men

  • A public interest can arise in a wide range of circumstances, including the protection of children from harm, and the promotion of child welfare. Even where the sharing of confidential medical information is considered inappropriate, it may be proportionate for a clinician to share the fact that they have concerns about a child.

    Lord Laming

Information sharing3
Information Sharing different men

‘’The Key factors in deciding whether or not to share confidential information are necessity and proportionality, ie whether the proposed sharing is likely to make an effective contribution to preventing the risk and whether the public interest in sharing information overrides the interest in maintaining confidentiality. In making the decision you must weigh up what might happen if the information is shared against what might happen if it is not and make a decision based on professional judgement’’

Lord Laming

Sharing information
Sharing Information different men

Likely outcome if information is shared

Data Protection Act 1998

Human Rights Act 1998

Freedom of Information Act 2000

Children Act 1989 and 2004

Likely outcome if information is not shared

Lessons from haringey scr s
Lessons from Haringey SCR’s different men

Working together in CP is like being in a relay team-make sure the information you hand over has been received and understood.

The rule of optimism means that professionals can even rationalise evidence that contradicts progress

Lessons from haringey scr s1
Lessons from Haringey SCR’s different men

A child does not have to be hit to be harmed.

All neglect indicators stem from a parental choice to prioritise something else above their child’s basic needs.

Think the Unthinkable: It is crucial to be sceptical of the accounts parents give-they should be tested thoroughly against the facts

Lessons from haringey scr s2
Lessons from Haringey SCR’s different men

The presence of a child in a household where domestic violence is an issue should immediately alert you to risk.

A Seen Child is not necessarily a Safe Child: Almost every child that has died in the last 40 years was seen by professionals within days (or hours) of their death.

Lessons from haringey scr s3
Lessons from Haringey SCR’s different men

At times professionals failed to act because they thought that another involved professional would take action.

The best predictor of future behaviour is past behaviour

There is no such thing as a typical family or a typical child, and it is dangerous to think that way.

Lessons from haringey scr s4
Lessons from Haringey SCR’s different men

Do not confuse an apparent good adult-child interaction with secure attachment....even abusive parents can have good days with their children

Risk refers to the probability of a future even; current harm is not a risk but a reality

Messages from mike
Messages from Mike different men

  • Stop and re- group (Critical Thinking)

  • Communication/information sharing

  • Keeping the child/yp central to your conversations/analysis and decisions/plans

  • Don’t assess families to death!!!!!!!

  • Child/yp cannot wait for their needs to be met-be confident in your professional judgements to date!

Messages different men

  • What if this was your child?

  • What would happen if we did nothing?

  • What’s reasonable to expect from parents/carers?

  • When is enough enough?

  • Collective responsibility –TEAM

  • When to escalate?

  • Stop trying to fix the unfixable(Children cannot wait!)

Messages different men

  • Understanding Thresholds across agencies

  • Multi-agency training-do we share/agree with the child/yp welfare concerns?

  • Supporting each other with the workload-it’s ok and right to ask for help and support!!!

  • We believe in diversity and difference but not at the expense of the child/yp

Messages different men

  • Being honest and clear about your concerns-being upfront. It’s not what you say but how you say it!!!!!!!!!!!

  • We don’t have to tolerate abuse/intimidation/

Messages different men

  • Importance of info sharing-we are all part of the jigsaw puzzle

  • Think of meetings like going to a birthday party-we all bring a present (info)

  • Multi-agency training-roles and responsibilities

Messages different men

  • Seeking guidance/direction from your peers/supervisor/manager/colleagues

  • We all need to be calm/proactive/critical/reflective thinkers.

AN different men



“Workers will …”

“Family Members will …”

What looks different? (scale against outcomes)

Have plans been carried out?

Impact of the change? (update assessment)

Has a good service been provided?


(specific, realisticmeasurable – agree how progress will be measured and scale current situation from 1-10 – )

“child/parent will …”

Exercise different men

What have I learnt?

What has been confirmed for me?

What will I do differently if anything?

Messages for the wider audience/colleagues/senior managers/Heads of Services/Councillors/Government and the wider community