Importance of Health Assessment Reviews for Children and Young People in Care
Year on year the number of children in care has consistently risen, increasing the demand on many 0-19/25s services across the country. With the ever-growing demand, Review Health Assessments are becoming more important for children in care. It is not unusual for these assessments to be included within 0-19/25s contracts, but recently we have seen Commissioners remove this element from the 0-19/25s provider and tender it as its own entity, sometimes unifying provision across local areas.
What defines a child in care?
Children in care are defined as: a child that is looked after by a local authority if they are in care or is provided with accommodation for more than 24 hours by the authority (Children’s Act 1989). Children in care fall into four main groups:
- Children who are accommodated via voluntary agreement with their parents (section 20)
- Children who are the subject of a care order (section 31) or interim care order (section 38)
- Children who are the subject of emergency orders for their protection (section 44 and 46)
- Children who are compulsorily accommodated. This includes children remanded to the local authority or subject to a criminal justice supervision order with a residence requirement (section 21)
As well as these four main groups, there are also other children who are defined as in care such as:
- Unaccompanied asylum-seeking children
- Children in friends and family placements
- Children where the agency has authority to place the child for adoption
How does being in care impact children and young people?
Many children and young people in care struggle with the interdependencies of health which can severely affect their mental and physical wellbeing. Due to circumstances out of their control such as frequent moving, change in carers and other extenuating issues it is often hard to engage them with healthcare, making it important that a provider delivers consistency to ensure nothing is missed.
There are many providers out there who are well placed to support these children, but, with the rising number of children entering care, that provision could soon be stretched. It is imperative they are met with a robust fit-for-purpose provision that is committed to not only providing assessments but also delivers holistic support to provide equity of delivery and outcomes
These assessments are in place to promote physical, emotional, and mental health needs through early assessment and intervention (Promoting Health Guidance 2015), and to address any health issues to allow children and young people to be healthy both physically and mentally. Assessments are carried out bi-annually for children under 5 years old and annually between the ages of 5-18.
The role of a review health assessment
Assessments act as a foundation. Providers use these to develop associated care plans tailored to the specific needs and outcomes of each service user. Acting as a gateway, review health assessments, support holistic care through active signposting all of which is underpinned by strong service user – clinician relationships ensuring seamless integration. Through this signposting providers can deliver a truly integrated, unified approach to ensure each individuals needs are being met and better outcomes are achieved.
In order to truly integrate into children and young peoples lives it is imperative they trust the healthcare professionals they meet with. Throughout the process, children and young people can become disengaged if they meet multiple clinicians, as they feel they are being passed through the system. Providing them with a consistent point of contact throughout their time allows the service user and clinician to build a rapport, enabling a deep understanding of the individuals needs and adapting the process and approach.
These assessments empower and educate children in care to understand the role healthcare plays in their lives, whilst ensuring they feel comfortable and confident to access relevant services and are getting the support they need.
Written by Josh Atherton, Bid Manager
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