Focus Family - Parents and Children with a Range of Health Problems

As can be seen from the Health page of the Family Outcome Plan (below) a wide range of factors can be considered for a family to meet this criterion. The plans focus on priority areas of mental illness, substance misuse and vulnerable new mothers.

The aim of the work is twofold; to put support in that will keep families out of specialist services and to help families who are already in receipt of high level support to maintain improvements that would see them move toward more universal provision.

Some useful things to consider are:

  • Can be either a child or adult in need of support.

  • Can be a long term, such as a disability, or short term e.g. substance misuse.

  • Mental ill health does not have to be confirmed by a clinician but the individual would need to be aware of the issue e.g. a child with suspected ADHD may not yet have had a diagnosis but the parent/ carer and child would know this was suspected.

What difference will this approach make?

Focus Family is a way of working that aims to improve families' experience when they need additional help. A benefit of this is that it will support service reform through reduced duplication of services, reduced demand on and re-referrals to acute services. Many of the families identified as meeting Focus Family criteria have intergenerational, complex issues with agencies involved at an individual level. It is important for families to receive a holistic support package and to ensure this is the case it is expected this work will be joined up as a Team around the Family (TAF).

The Focus Family ethos is outlined in the Family Outcome Plan Guidance (185.76 kb PDF)

Research has shown that families most likely to benefit from co-ordinated support have multiple challenges such as unemployment, poor school attendance, involved with crime and poor health. The health problems may be exacerbated by the presence of domestic violence or abuse.

If you recognise your own family as meeting any of the criteria below, or you are working with a family who meet criteria, please read the information to help guide you through the process section for more advice.

If you would like to know more about the Focus Family work please go to the About Focus Family

If you would like more support please see the provided range of useful websites.

Theme 6: Parents and Children with a Range of Health Problems
Indicator/Family Problem Identified IssuesSignificant Progress (and/or outcome measure)Sustained Progress
Family member is identified as a young parent (under 19 years old)Parent engages with Family Nurse Partnership: ideally be before 16th week gestation to meet fidelity goalWork with FNP is completed - 16 weeks gestation until child is 2 years
An adult with parenting responsibilities (including new or expectant mothers) or a child with mental health problemsImprovements in wellbeing maintained as measured on appropriate assessment tools (e.g. Warwick - Edinburgh Mental Health and Wellbeing Scale/Goodman`s SDQ).  No further referrals to community based services.  Meet targets of mandated contacts for 0-5 (Health Visiting): ante-natal, 6-8 weeks, 3-4 months, 1 year, 2 1/2 yearsOver 6 months
An adult with parenting responsibilities (including new or expectant mothers) or a child with a substance misuse problemReduction in alcohol related hospital admissions.  Reduction in intake and harm.  Meet targets of new mandated contacts for 0-5 (Health Visiting) will be: ante-natal, 6-8 weeks, 3-4 months, 1 year, 2 1/2 yearsOver 6 months
An adult with parenting responsibilities (including new or expectant mothers) showing other health factors associated with poor parentingParent engages with Universal Partnership Plus service or Family Nurse Partnership.  Practitioner reports evidence of parent demonstrating ability to take responsibility for actions to improve health of familyOver 6 months
Adults with parenting responsibilities or children who are nominated by health professionals as having any mental and physical health problems of equivalent concern to the indicators above.  This may include unhealthy behaviours, resulting in problems like obesity, malnutrition or diabetesBreastfeeding maintainedAt least 6-8 weeks
All children in family receive immunisationsImmunisations remain up-to-date by time of services exiting support
Family registered with GP and DentistDentist check-ups in last 6 months
At least one family member to maintain healthy BMIOver 6 months

A young 10 year old was displaying a range of behaviour problems including being aggressive toward his father, running away and resulting in numerous police call outs.

The child lived with his mum and step family part time and with his alcoholic father for the rest of the week. The family was being supported by Children's Services social worker due to the risk of neglect for the child. A team around the family was brought together with professionals from school, Police, Pupil Referral Unit, Drug and Alcohol Service, Jobcentre Plus, Health Visiting, school nurse and the social worker.

Initially the team focused on ensuring the child's physical needs were met and this included helping his father to clean his flat and purchase second hand furniture, including a bed for his son.

Support and guidance was provided to parents to help them work with each other. Practical steps included providing a mobile phone for the childs' father so he can ring his mother if and when the child goes missing.

The biggest challenge was in supporting the child's father to make the  necessary changes in order to provide stability for his son. This father had no friends and was very lonely. He was encouraged to attend events with other parents involved with the project including a pantomime, walks and lunches.

Successes are now that parents are talking regularly and working out how to support their son together, the child spending more time in mainstream school with a plan for this to soon become full time, a reduction in behaviour problems and a reduction in the number of times the child runs away and police call outs.

Father is attending appointments with the drug and alcohol services and he has been on a course to help him develop a Curriculum Vitae.

This work is ongoing with support slowly being reduced as the family develop the skills to keep their children safe and free from neglect whilst also improving their future opportunities.