Ensuring ‘Lived Experience’ is at the heart of Liaison and Diversion service design and delivery
The central Liaison and Diversion (L&D) programme and the Revolving Doors Agency (RDA) recently held two workshops on ‘Lived Experience Engagement, ’in London and Leeds. These were designed to help Health and Justice Commissioners and L&D services to find ‘the right service users with the right service user experience’ to support Commissioners in commissioning L&D services and for L&D services to obtain meaningful feedback from L&D service users to help improve engagement and development of their services.
The workshops provided practical approaches on where to find these service users. They looked at how to obtain meaningful engagement with L&D service users and shared best practice examples between the regions and schemes. By all accounts the events were extremely helpful, with schemes reporting a range of ways they are already working with service users and deciding on ideas for new approaches.
At the workshops, and later via email, all schemes were asked to undertake an audit on how they both involve people with lived experience in the development of their service and how they obtain service user feedback. These audits and any accompanying action plans are to then be added to their respective Partnership Board agendas and reported on regularly to ensure that the voice and feedback of those using a service are central to the way each scheme operates and develops.
Involving people with lived experience has always been a central part of how the national L&D programme operates. The national ‘Lived Experience Team’ (LET) have advised on the plans and development of the Programme since it began. A representative of the team notes that, “Bringing people with lived experience in to advise on developments and give feedback from the ground, makes sure the service works for those it is intended to help.”
Having the chance to feedback ideas for a service can also be a positive experience for service users. Another LET member, involved in designing Peer Support for the Programme notes that, “Seeing is believing; if anyone had told me when I got involved in the Lived Experience Team for L&D that we would see peer supporters being paid to be part of the approach [of the Programme] I wouldn’t have believed it; and to know that we have been such a fundamental part in getting it from an idea to a reality, makes me feel proud.”
Useful resources promoted at the workshops include the Framework for patient and public participation in Health and Justice commissioning and the NHS England Involvement Hub which include a range of resources and training tools. For those who were not able to attend, please feel free to contact the central team (via Neisha.Betts@nhs.net) to obtain a copy of the presentations from the day plus the links to the other resources in relation to lived experience engagement.
Families and Carers of people using Liaison and Diversion (L&D) services
During 2015, the Prison Reform Trust produced a report which detailed findings from a number of interviews and workshops held with over 25 family members and carers of people using L&D services.
The report’s recommendations included the need for L&D schemes to be proactive in promoting their services to families; ensuring families have a named contact; improvements around confidentiality and a proposal for NHS England to establish a national forum for family members to inform the development of L&D services.
The report highlighted the support given by L&D providers to help family members access appropriate local services for their relatives, with a focus upon healthcare in particular. Many people had previously experienced persistent difficulties in accessing health services before working with their L&D scheme.
One family member spoke about difficulties her son was experiencing as he tried to cope with his father’s death; “My son is coping with his dad’s death by getting involved with drugs and legal highs, he’s only 15. I had never heard of the ‘Youth Alcohol and Drug project’ until the L&D service helped me.
“They put everything in place; the ADHD team has pulled their finger out, and I’ve got the children’s team. The L&D service opened the door to things I couldn’t get before. I tried, but it was too hard – you just don’t know where to go.”
Another family member with similar experiences said, “We tried talking to our GP who didn’t know who to contact or who could help – he tried, but he simply didn’t know. So we went back to the L&D service. They found something for us; found out about a particular service, the name of the person we should talk to and the telephone number. It was so helpful. My son is calmer; the house is calmer. We aren’t scared anymore”.
Jenny Talbot OBE, Director of the Prison Reform Trust’s ‘Care not Custody’ programme and author of the report, said of the research, “Family members are important. They can make a positive difference to the lives of their relatives by supporting recovery from mental ill-health, helping with daily living support and in moments of crisis, and also by encouraging changes in behaviour.”
“But families themselves sometimes need support. Contact with the criminal justice system isn’t run of the mill – for most of us it’s an unknown and threatening environment. When your son or daughter, sister or parent is arrested by the police, not knowing what to do or what will happen next can be terrifying.
“In this study, above all, family members said they wanted information in order to provide the best possible support for their relative. In turn, and observing proper information sharing protocols, family members can provide useful information about the particular needs of their relative.
“The family members supported by L&D services could not speak highly enough of the help received. Often provided by a family member’s ‘own’ L&D worker, families received ‘non-judgmental’ support, information and guidance that made them feel better able to support their relative and access services in their own right.”