Young People's Benchmarking Forum
Jane Hylton, Ralph Rushworth, Aaron Walmsley-Fishwick
To discuss four questions that were raised about access to care records and the support to understand them and deal with some of the emotions raised by reading them and also an update from the meeting held in September 2018.
Following the last meeting Ralph Rushworth presented to the Board four questions that had been raised at the Young People's Benchmarking Forum and representatives agreed to take these back to their Authorities and get their views.
Ralph shared his experience about how he tried to access his own records and what information was on Lancashire County Council's website. Details are attached in the PowerPoint and Ralph's experience as below:
The extract is from an A-Z guide I found for care leavers, this A-Z guide is made by the council, what you see is all it stated about files. The fact this screenshot says at the bottom of the extract proves that this document is severely out of date and it is still easily found/accessed with in our local authorities - we need to stop feeding our service users wrong information and communicate more effectively than we have been. We need to change.
The hyperlink is a genuine Lancashire County Council page to educate service users and the public on accessing files. Clicking into it there is a lack of information actually around file access - there is also a hyperlink to submit an online form to access files - this is broken - takes you to an error 404. I emailed the email on the page about information and no reply. This shows LCC are not up-to-date with the general information they are advertising and seems that if this information already isn’t accurate surely the deeper into LCC it goes the less information is going to be known/accurate. I contacted someone in document management service who gave me another point of contact but still nobody could give me a definite answer.
My Personal Adviser had put the form in to access my file when I started my apprenticeship in April 2018. I had still heard nothing back from her about it or the document management service (which is initially where I assume the files are stored and sent off to the young person's home address).
No numbers to contact to track the progress of the files. I contacted duty on 0300 1236720 they ended up trying to put me through to my social worker who I sit in the same office with, so after 20 min on hold it was for nothing.
My Personal Adviser gave me the form they send to the PO box and there was a number on the bottom to contact for the form in different languages or formats – 01772534285, I rang this number several times and it would say the number is no longer in service. Majority of Personal Advisers I asked hadn’t done it before so there clearly wasn’t educated because no one could tell me what happens after you send off to request the files. Once I got into contact with someone who helps exctract the data they told me they had sent the letter for proof of id (proof of id is needed to access your files and you send as a separate document the majority of the time.) to the wrong flat but also to the next door address which could be damaging to my life if he had sent the files there.
How we could improve
REMEMBER EVEN IF WE FIX THE PROCESS WE NEED A SAFETY NET OF SUPPORT
Training such as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder awareness, resilience coaching, peer mentoring, counselling – maybe make it mandatory, an available choice if you want to access your records, you receive them with a counsellor/therapist and they read it with you then you are free to leave and take the records but more sessions with the counsellor can be available if you would like them?
Even if we fix the process then we need to remember that reading your files can be extremely damaging to a young person's mental health, I have experienced first-hand my friends mental health spiralling from receiving his files, simply because there was so much of his life he did not know and he did not have the right tools to cope with the impact this had on his life, but as a positive he is thriving in his life now and aiming to access Higher Education.
Following Ralph's account of his experience the Board agreed that:
Actions: i) Training needs to be improved.
ii) Progress needs to be tracked.
iii) Understanding what risks are in place and how they are managed.
iv) John Readman agreed to raise all of the above with Heads of Service and would feedback at a future meeting on progress.
Ralph was thanked for sharing his experience and bringing this issue to the Board's attention.