Success and learning from pilot sites: The South Yorkshire Keyworking service

The NHS Long Term Plan included a commitment that ‘by 2023/24 children and young people with a learning disability and/or who are autistic with the most complex needs will have a designated Keyworker’.

In South Yorkshire that commitment is becoming a reality as the Keyworker team is already supporting 16 children and young people and their families and is hoping to be supporting up to 50 over the coming months. Through their work so far the team have prevented two young people from being readmitted to hospital and one young person from going into hospital for the first time.

Team members come from different backgrounds and bring together a variety of skills. Families who have been supported by the new Keyworkers are reporting that they particularly value that some Keyworkers have lived experience and often feel more impartial than other services, having the benefit of being able to look at the bigger picture for the family.

One parent said: “Our keyworker has been a fantastic help and I am sure she has gone over and above her job role as every time I have needed her support she has always been so helpful, always smiling, understanding, patient and caring. She is very easy to talk to and has put a lot of help in place when we have been waiting months. She listens carefully to what our needs are and just seems to get things sorted”.

The local team have set up a range of ways of sharing learning as well as new processes to make sure that children and young people and their families get the right support at the right time. These include:

  • The development of a keyworker network, locally and nationally to share good practice, reflect and support each other.
  • Developing a transitions multi agency working group when this was identified as a local need.
  • Refining the children’s dynamic support register to support the Keyworker role and improve access to data.
  • Linking the children and adults dynamic risk registers to improve transitions between services.
  • Developing a collaborative style of working between different organisations and partner multi-disciplinary teams to allow for effective escalation of cases.
  • Developing a communication and engagement plan to make sure the wider system in the area understand the purpose and function of Keyworkers and developing accessible resources and information for children and young people and their families.

Feedback from the local child and adolescent mental health service:

“The role has had a major positive impact upon the young person we are working with. The Keyworker has worked extremely hard to ensure that the young person’s voice is heard as well as building a good relationship with the wider family. We have worked closely to adapt resources for young people to ensure that they are autism friendly and relatable to the young person via alternative communication”.

South Yorkshire and Bassetlaw was one of 13 pilot areas across the country to be chosen to establish a service in their area. Pilots were appointed after a decision making process including representatives from the National Network for Parent Carer Forums and other families and young people.

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