Improving mental health services for adopted children: co-production

The story so far ….

In October 2015 feedback from adopters about CAMHS services was presented to a large meeting of professionals and government officials. The feedback was the result of an informal but substantial consultation with adopters and professionals and the suggestions we made to improve services were cohesive and well thought through.

In March 2017, again in consultation those proposals were boiled down to two core principles that most agreed should be part of a good quality service that would meet the needs of adopted children and their families.

That brings us to now. This week I submitted four detailed proposals to the expert group I belong to. I’ve tried to stick to things that are achievable and affordable. ┬áThese are:

Mandatory training (initial and continuing) for all mental health professionals who work with adoptive families in complex trauma and attachment, co-produced by adopted young people and their families.

Adopted young people and their families to be embedded in commissioning and governance of mental health services and in their design, delivery and evaluation. Again, co-production.

Establishment of regional centres of excellence that specialise in complex trauma and attachment, that act as a focus for creating excellence in services and improving skills, education and research. Involve users in the design, delivery and evaluation of services. Co-production.

Development of an app for adoptive parents that encourages and supports self-monitoring of mental wellbeing. acts as a prompt for self care and records data around what helps and hinders. (Not meant as an alternative to professional support). Not very well thought out, so could be a crap idea.

NB I refer to adoptive parents throughout because these are the people who have taken part in this work. I don’t mean to exclude others who parent care-experienced children and young people, although these proposals could work across the board, I’m just taking care not to speak outside my area of experience.

Services that listen to and learn from their users, work best for those users, and adoptive families are no different. Plus we are engaged, committed and well-trained. What’s not to like?

3 thoughts on “Improving mental health services for adopted children: co-production

  1. Becky Poole

    Sally parent carer forums are exactly for this purpose. As an adopter Im also part of one and been banging on for ages. What DFE and CCG seem good at is separating groups off… you get offered a cream custard and think brill we got somewherr but another group gets a triple cream custard and another with Jam on top.
    As part of Parent Carer Forum which is part of a wider forum altogether I urge you to join with Sherann Hillman of NNPCF and tackle this 2 pronged. 1) from Adoption side 2) from PAN disability side. NNPCF should be inclusive which is why as an adopter Im part of this wider network that has official ties to our mate ED. However I see limited evidence as money into LAs for SEN/Adopted kids is not ringfenced…..CAHMS are not prepared to recognise Attachment as MH.
    We bang the same drum but I fear the DfE likes lots of pockets of small drims rather than the roar of one very large

  2. Annabel Wells

    I think you have made some very useful points. As a psych nurse working in CAMHS I think several of my colleagues would agree that training in complex trauma and attachment would be extremely helpful, as we work with a lot of adopted children and their families.
    As to your comment about having adopted young people and their families involved in commissioning and governance, I think this would be very useful and relatively easy to organise, as I know several colleagues who are like me adoptive parents and mental health professionals.
    I personally am not sure I would use the app, but otherwise agree with your suggestions.


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