Celebrating ‘Think Family’ in the Northern Trust

Over 100 delegates have attended a conference to mark the success of the ‘Think Family’ initiative which was hosted by the Health and Social Care Board.

‘Think Family’ was a three-year project funded by the Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety (DHSSPS) to focus on improving joint working based on a family centred model of service delivery. The aim of the project was to improve the outcomes for parents with mental health illness and their families by establishing a ‘think child, think parent, think family’ model to service planning and delivery.

The conference entitled: ‘Thinking Family - Improving Lives’ was organised to showcase and disseminate the good practice initiatives and improvements made to services as a result of this important national project over the last three years.

In his opening remarks, Sean Holland, Deputy Secretary, Social Services Policy Group at the DHSSPS explained: “This Mental Health and Children’s Services project has been called the Think Family Project as it takes a ‘whole family approach’. It has explored a broad range of issues affecting parents with poor mental health in order to develop the right kind of services to help them continue caring for their children and family.”

“Good co-operation between parents, professionals and service providers is essential to both protect children and to support parents and carers experiencing poor mental health. Therefore joint working, based on a family centred approach, is key to the effective delivery of services,” he added.

Also speaking at the event, Aidan Murray, Assistant Director with the Board praised the hard work of HSC staff in bringing about the necessary changes to better address the needs of parents, carers and children whose lives are affected by a family member suffering from mental health problems.

Other speakers comprised representatives from all five HSC Trusts who showcased initiatives; members from the voluntary sector who provided information on support services for parents with mental health issues and their families as well as Hugh Constant from SCIE (Social Care Institute of Excellence) who spoke about the evaluation of the project which involved five sites in England as well as Northern Ireland.

Feedback from participants, which included service users, HSC staff from mental health and children’s services and representatives across the statutory and voluntary sectors, was very positive. Delegates enjoyed the open and informal way the event was organised which afforded them the opportunity to network, view exhibitions, learn from each other, explore and debate ideas.

For more information on the ‘Think Family’ initiative log on to www.hscboard.hscni.net and the SCIE Report 56: Think child, think parent, think family: final evaluation report is available at http://www.scie.org.uk/publications/reports/report56.asp