Young People's Views
Leaving Care Solutions uses a range of innovative, proven techniques to engage young people in the design and delivery of individual support and overall service development. Our approach to participation and co-production follows our comprehensive Participation Strategy, which was developed according to the National Youth Agency’s ‘Hear By Right’ standards.
Young people’s direct involvement is crucial to managing practical issues affecting their day-to-day living. We encourage young people to manage their affairs themselves, within overall accommodation rules, but we seek their views whenever we act as decision-makers.
Upon receipt of referral, we work together with the young person, LA Social Worker, Personal Advisor and any other partners to gain an in-depth understanding of the young person’s individual needs, in accordance with their Care Plan or Pathway Plan. This informs placement matching and planning processes, enabling us to identify the most suitable placement for the young person and put in place the right package of support. We explore the reasons for any previous placement breakdowns (including from the young person’s perspective), so we can address these issues and maximise the likelihood of the young person settling well into their new home.
Young person-centred approach
We put the young person at the centre of developing their own Action Plan, ensuring it identifies specific goals and outcomes that are important to the young person. We then put in place a personalised package of support for achieving progress towards identified goals. We adopt a collaborative, multi-agency approach, working with the wider professional network to ensure the right service with the right skillset is supporting the young person with their assessed needs (e.g. specialist substance misuse services, young person/adult mental health services, criminal justice providers). Taking this young person-centred approach ensures that support is tailored to each young person’s needs, providing a strong foundation for building their future success and wellbeing.
Wherever possible, we would aim to provide young people with choice about where they live. Unless an emergency placement, we try to consult the young person on properties we have available and which would best suit their needs. If timescales allow, we would provide opportunities for the young person to visit their new home before moving in, making things more familiar so they can quickly settle in.
Each young person receives a Welcome Book, which is tailored to the individual and property, including important information about the home. Examples include how to operate items such as the cooker and central heating, when bins need to be put out, fire safety procedures, and contact details for our 24/7 out-of-hours service and local community services. Ensuring the young person is familiar with this important information helps to reduce uncertainty and anxieties in the early stages of the placement.
Personalising the home
We also encourage and promote young people making their new home their own. This includes personalising their room with photos, posters, furnishings and possessions that will help them to feel at home, and consulting them when changes are made to communal areas (e.g. redecorating the living room or replacing furniture).
We understand that the early stages of a placement are when a young person can feel most unsettled, so we make sure our staff are available and accessible to support them at any time. There are staff on-site 24/7 in our shared houses and every young person is allocated a keyworker, with whom they can discuss any issues. We also ensure young people are given useful contact numbers, such as our out-of-hours support service, point of contact for maintenance issues, emergency services and medical advice lines (e.g. NHS 111), and other resources in their local community. Ensuring the young person feels appropriately supported and knows who to contact with any issues is key to them settling quickly into their home.
We are skilled in developing positive, professional relationships between the young person and their allocated keyworker, so the young person feels able to share any concerns/issues that are making them feel unsettled. All staff are trained to maintain professional curiosity, allowing them to identify any issues and recognise changes in the young person’s behaviour that may indicate emerging difficulties, whilst keeping a professional stance and empowering the young person to make informed decisions. By identifying any issues early, we are able to take appropriate steps to address them, helping the young person to feel settled and avoiding placement breakdown.
LCS recognises the importance of young people maintaining existing, positive relationships with family/friends/carers, so we support this by ensuring they have safe spaces for contact to take place, are able to send letters/cards, and have access and privacy to make phone calls. This provides some consistency for the young person during the transition to their new home, helping them to feel settled.
In addition, we plan social activities for young people in our shared houses, to help them get to know one another and feel happy living together. Young people are encouraged to choose these activities for themselves, but examples include barbecues, movie nights, games nights/quizzes or a takeaway, bringing the whole household together to socialise and have fun.
Shaping service delivery
We are committed to capturing the lived experience of our young people, and ensuring it is used to inform service delivery. Our services operate within an environment of co-production and active participation, ensuring young people:
- Proactively contribute to designing and developing their support, giving them a sense of ownership and responsibility while also improving engagement
- Have equal opportunities to participate irrespective of needs (e.g. using alternative formats, languages and communication techniques)
- Are supported to take responsibility for consequences of their behaviours and choices, and take credit for their achievements.
Young people’s views are recorded in regular reporting during their time with us, raised in supervision and reflected in reviewing placement objectives. This ensures our support responds to changing or emerging needs.
We also gather feedback about our wider services through consultation methods that include:
- Quarterly questionnaires (anonymous submissions available)
- Six-monthly text message survey
- Online surveys (can be anonymous)
- Group discussions
- Exit interviews
- Organising event days where young people can discuss their views.
When young people share their views, wishes and feelings with us, we:
- Follow a ‘You Said, We Did’ approach of explaining any actions taken – or providing clear reasons for not taking action
- Report aggregated feedback to our Board
- Include feedback in contract monitoring reports to commissioners
- Use feedback to inform Service Improvement Plans, leading to improved positive outcomes.
Our group of companies held interviews to find a new Support Worker who could specialise in Step-Down fostering placements. Two young people currently in our Step-Down placements joined our interviewer to help assess the candidates. The young people completed training to make sure they understood the interview process and were aware of confidentiality and anti-discriminatory practices, which was valuable experience and learning for them. By applying the young people’s real-life experience, we were able to consider factors that mattered to them, like compassion, understanding and a sense of humour.
Support & Independence
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