NHS Devon mentoring

July 2012

Towards a ‘single and seamless’ approach to home safety assessment

Steve Brown is Assistant Director of Public Health at NHS Devon. He works with a multi-agency partnership group to implement the local child unintentional injury prevention strategy and action plan. Mentors from CAPT are supporting the group in their efforts to keep child accident prevention high on the public health agenda and to establish a more co-ordinated and targeted approach to home safety assessments throughout the county.

Establishing a multi-agency partnership was one of the recommendations of Devon’s 2009/10 strategy for preventing unintentional injuries among children and young people. Steve was tasked to set up the group under the umbrella of Devon Safeguarding Children Board.

“One of the first things we did as a group was to review the accident prevention activities that were taking place in Devon,” explains Steve. “We already had a list that had been compiled when the strategy was developed in 2009, but one year on everyone was facing significant budget cutbacks and staffing reductions.

We needed to make sure that every activity was being targeted in the most effective way. “We also reviewed the work we were doing in the light of new guidance from NICE on unintentional injury prevention, to make sure our activities were firmly evidence-based.”

Where they are now

Data analyst group

The partnership includes a sub-group which has responsibility for collecting and analysing local data. The group of analysts have strong working relationships with a wide range of stakeholders, including Devon County Council and the police force, who collect up-to-date road collision and casualty data.

Making the Link stakeholder workshop

In March 2012, Steve hosted a Making the Link workshop in North Devon. The event brought together commissioners in the NHS and local authorities, along with local service providers such as road safety teams and children’s centres, to discuss issues relating to child safety.

“What I found most useful was hearing experiences and views from people who are in direct contact with families who need our support. The discussions we had reinforced (the idea) that we need to make sure everyone on the ground knows about the services that are available locally. We might wonder why we don’t get many referrals for home safety assessments in some areas, but a lot of the time it might well be down to a simple lack of awareness about this service.”

Aims for the future

Building better data

Steve says that much of the local data that the partnership group works with is of a very high standard, but he thinks there’s still room for improvement. “Our analysts are working on ways to improve the quality and timeliness of our data,” says Steve. “We’d like to get more information on children and young people treated in minor injury units too – we have 26 community hospitals in Devon but the system for collecting data across these units is less sophisticated than in acute trusts.”

The data analyst group is also working towards identifying a set of four or five key indicators which will help keep Devon Safeguarding Children Board informed about changing patterns in unintentional injuries among children and young people in the area.

A co-ordinated approach to home assessments

The partners have identified an opportunity to take a much more co-ordinated approach to home safety assessments and equipment installation in Devon. “At the moment we have multiple agencies going into people’s homes, each focusing on their own agency’s area of responsibility rather than tackling an holistic approach to home safety. At the workshop we talked about what we could do to make this system more efficient for the families we visit and for the organisations involved too making sure we target the most vulnerable families and homes. We’ve already started looking at developing a single assessment form which will cover all areas of home safety.”

Innovative approaches to budget management

Ilfracombe in North Devon is one of the pilot areas for the Department for Communities & Local Government’s (DCLG) neighbourhood-level community budget programme, which aims to give greater control of services to local people. The partners will be championing the child accident prevention cause with stakeholders in Ilfracombe, to explore whether the district would like to use part of its budget to commission targeted prevention activities.

How mentoring support will help

Maintaining momentum in changing times

Steve is very aware that 2012 is a year of transition, with public health responsibilities moving from the NHS to local authorities. “This year is far from ‘business as usual’ – there’s a lot of effort going into organisational changes and a great deal of uncertainty about future roles and responsibilities – but we still need to maintain momentum on our child accident prevention work. I think the support from CAPT will be a great help in making sure that this work stays high on the public health agenda.”

Ian Evans, Head of Education and Engagement at CAPT, adds: “We’ll be supporting the partners to build on the excellent work they’ve already done in areas such as data collection and analysis, and helping them to successfully position unintentional injury prevention within emerging organisational structures.”

Facilitating greater co-ordination

Mentors from Making the Link will work alongside the partnership group to start a conversation with local stakeholders about adopting a more co-ordinated and targeted approach to home safety assessments. “Our mentors will be able to bring an independent, outside perspective,” comments Steve. “I’m looking forward to being asked some challenging questions about the way we currently do things and to finding out about ideas and examples from other organisations that CAPT has worked with.”

Further information

For more information about child accident prevention in Devon, please contact Steve Brown on stevebrown@nhs.net

Related links

Updated February 2014