Young Somerset support vulnerable young adults with 1-to-1 therapy. Despite having a fledgling approach to digital, they quickly moved their service online in response to COVID19.
They were able to find a solution that met their NHS commissioner’s information governance and security requirements. They did this by reaching out to peer organisations facing similar challenges and mapping risks and safeguarding concerns.
To keep their young people reassured and engaged while developing the solution, the team called each of them to check in. The team also made sure they were available on email, phone, WhatsApp and the service’s Facebook page.
They developed a protocol for staff that covers how to deliver the service over Zoom, risks and safeguarding and developing therapeutic relationships online.
Young Somerset used the Whatsapp groups they are part of to get peer support from other youth work organisations in the county.
Young Somerset were able to informally connect and get advice from other organisations facing similar challenges.
Email, phone, WhatsApp and the service’s Facebook page
Young Somerset’s team used a variety of channels to stay in touch with their clients while deciding how to move online.
Using a range of channels meant young people could choose how to engage with them.
Making the decision to move a service online
Take time and approach this as an opportunity to improve the service for the future.
Do research to find out what similar organisations have done. Reach out to peers and local service managers.
Map out potential safeguarding risks, mitigations and success indicators.
Stay in touch with clients while developing a solution. Ask staff not to create workarounds in the meantime.
Meet with the relevant people to discuss the solution and review issues. For Young Somerset, this was their Head of Information Security and Governance and the NHS commissioner.
Document the process used to arrive at a decision, the solution and rationale, and the exit strategy - when and how the decision will be reviewed.
Create a protocol for staff to follow when using the new tools.
Look at how the short term need to move online could support longer term goals. For Young Somerset, this meant the chance to support young people in rural settings.
Stay in contact with your clients who will need reassurance about what is going to happen.
Think through your decision and provide evidence to support it. For Young Somerset, this meant researching the effectiveness of therapy delivered remotely, as well as the safeguarding and information security requirements. SCVO have collected advice from a range of charities about adapting safeguarding practices for online service delivery.
Equip staff to work in the new way. The protocol that Young Somerset developed for staff covers:
When conducting therapy sessions online, there are risks that can reduce relational depth between the therapist and young person. For example, factors like audio quality and how clearly participant’s can see each other’s face. To mitigate this, Young Somerset include guidance on how to get the best quality connection, for example by making sure faces are well lit.
There is a safeguarding risk that a young person’s location may not be known if urgent concerns arise about their safety. Therapists are asked to confirm the client’s location at the beginning of the session to mitigate this.
There is also a risk that staff or young people will not have access to private spaces within their homes to conduct the sessions.
Points of contact
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Many thanks to Young Somerset for contributing this recipe.
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