In the Sustainable Transformation Partnership footprint of Kent and Medway, The Academy of Public Health (for London and KSS) and Kent County Council are leading on a piece of work to support the workforce and the health and social care system to be ACE aware and trauma-informed. Sure, sure, that sounds all very well but what does it mean?
First, a whistle-stop tour to get us all on the same page… For the purposes of this work, ACE stands for Adverse Childhood Events. These are a list of traumatic events which children can experience. Children experiencing four or more of these events are more likely to develop mental health problems, as well as behaviours such as risky sexual activity, drug and alcohol dependency, and violence. There are also links to the physical implications of these types of behaviours such as diabetes, teen pregnancy and cardiovascular disease. Statistics show that experiencing four or more of these events can also increase the risk of suicide and homelessness. There is a wealth of evidence and research into this so please do find out more; you can start here…
Our work in Kent and Medway began because we see that by working together as a system, we can look at where there are gaps in workforce development, leadership and outcomes for people who have experienced trauma or stressful events early in life.
We held an event in January 2019, where we invited as many professionals as possible from different organisations, around Kent and Medway. We used this event to raise awareness of what being trauma-informed is, and to explore together where there needs to be change to develop together. The event was facilitated by Dr Warren Larkin, a pioneer in this work, who has developed a training model for systems change. The event was very well-received and showed us that there are gaps in knowledge, but also that for a lot of professionals, a lot of this evidence and thinking is common sense and they just need organisations to take a more strategic approach.
We got buy in and the go ahead from the 0-25 Health and Wellbeing Board and set up an ACE Steering Group, which provides strategic oversight to the work. From there, we set up four action groups:
Workforce Development: developing organisational and system change approaches through staff development, i.e. work with one whole geographical area
Community: work with communities to raise awareness such as screenings of the film “Resilience”
Commissioning: work with existing and new contracted providers to build in trauma-informed practice
Research and Development: work with academic partners to develop an evaluation of trauma-informed practice in social prescribing.
Some helpful further reading:
Young Minds: Addressing Adversity
Animation developed by NHS Scotland
Lara Hogan, Programme Lead: Academy of Public Health