Introduction – Callum (Founder & Occupational Therapy Lead)
Here at bOunceT, we have two new students on placement from Queen Margaret University (QMU). Cadhla & Andraya are both in their final year of BSc (Hons) Occupational Therapy and have their final placement with us for 8 weeks. To help meet their learning outcomes, and squeeze in some extra CPD, both students are going to blog about their experience of being on placement during a global pandemic. This will earn them the title (and badge!) of being a bOunceT buddy.
Blog #2 – GIRFEC (Getting It Right for Every Child) at bOunceT – Cadhla QMU OT student
Hello, its Cadhla again!
In this blog, I wanted to discuss one of the most important policies adopted by bOunceT, that I have come to know and hopefully put well into practice myself. It is something that in thinking and in practice, has overarched everything that I have seen or done over the past few weeks, and that is GIRFEC!
So, what is this funny sounding policy then?
Well, Getting It Right For Every Child (GIRFEC) is a policy created in 2006 by The Scottish Government, which centres on employing an individual child-centred approach, focusing on the specific needs of the child. It is central to all governmental policies which support children, young people and their families and aims to allow services (like bOunceT!) to employ a more specific support network to ensure that every child gets the right support when they need it; putting the child at heart (The Scottish Government 2020).
Before beginning my placement at bOunceT all those weeks ago, I can honestly say that I had not encountered this policy, as had never had the opportunity to work with children and young people in this way. However, from my learning as an Occupational Therapy Student, I could begin to make connections between GIRFEC and the approaches developing my own mindset, coming from both HCPC (Health and Care Professions) and RCOT (Royal College of Occupational Therapists) standards.
As GIRFEC highlights, a child or young person’s wellbeing is influenced by everything around them and the different experiences and needs they have at different times in their lives. In connection with this, as an Occupational Therapist (OT), you are expected to understand how a person’s health and wellbeing affects, and is affected by, their occupational performance and participation (RCOT 2017). In many ways, I have witnessed where bOunceT has been a great service for delivering these outcomes to children and young people. GIRFEC’s values and principles are at the heart of every intervention, therefore influencing bOunceT’s unique service delivery.
As I mentioned, there are many elements that make up GIRFEC, and with this, many instances where I have seen bOunceT, as Innovative Occupational Therapy, put it all into action! For example:
GIRFEC is child-focused – it ensures the child or young person – and their family – is at the centre of decision-making and the support available to them. At bOunceT, contact between families and the service is paramount; there is online support, phone calls to check in with goals and progress, and one-to-one sessions available with the OT’s. bOunceT partner with parents – and the individuals wider support network (e.g. grandparents) – to review the young person’s progress within activity sessions, discuss aims/goals, and to move through the OT process. There is both a client-centred and family-centred approach taken within practice to know exactly how best to support everyone in the family; not just the young person attending activity sessions!
In being family centred, I believe you are inherently centred on the child. One example in which I have seen this focus, has been in working with families to learn and adapt our communications style to suit their child best – particularly in the presentation of non-verbal children with Autism. OT’s must understand the need to adopt an approach which centres on the service user and establish appropriate professional relationships in order to motivate and involve the service user in meaningful occupation (HCPC 2017). Through this lens, I have watched those around them communicate in the way that the child knows how, and as a HCPC practitioner, you must use the service users preferred means of communication where possible (HCPC 2017). So, I have absolutely learned to take this on board when engaging with both children and their families at bOunceT!
- GIRFEC is based on an understanding of the wellbeing of a child – as GIRFEC aims to take into consideration the wider influences on a child or young person and their developmental needs when thinking about their wellbeing, at places like bOunceT, the right support can be offered. HCPC standards (2018) state as a practitioner you must gather information about the service user’s occupational performance, taking into account their environmental context. Going past the usual OT lingo, at bOunceT we do this through our initial chats with parents, observations made during sessions and asking parents to tell us everything we need to know through our ‘All About Me’ forms. This all filters into the thinking and learning around every individual child’s needs and the support system they have around them. Its more than just bouncing on a trampoline!
- GIRFEC is based on tackling needs early – at bOunceT, referrals can be taken on from families directly, in addition to referrals from local organisations and services. As stated by GIRFEC, ensuring the needs of the child are addressed/ identified as early as possible to avoid issues or bigger concerns developing later on is taken into consideration here. I have seen at bOunceT, how many times people come to use this service as a resource for when their child as not yet received or is waiting on a diagnosis. It is common for other services to turn away those in this situation, however I feel it is one of bOunceT this is not the case, and the diagnose, although taken into consideration, is not a requirement. As RCOT (2017) states – OT’s consider the occupational needs of the service user and the potential benefit of occupational therapy within the context of your service provision. On many occasions, key needs are considered at bOunceT possibly before other services or support can be provided and from here a plan can be made – fun included!
- GIRFEC requires joined-up working – it is about children, young people, families, and the services they require working together in a coordinated way to meet the specific needs and improve the wellbeing of the individual. The real joined up working at bOunceT is with teachers, SLA’s and Head Teachers from local authority schools, day centres, social work, students, local services like Carers Centre + PLUS, Scottish Autism New Struan School, key worker & other staff required to develop the Play Plan. As OT’s, HCPC (2018) states that we must understand the need to work with those who provide services in and across different sectors, and bOunceT has been massively influential in my learning and practice of this so far. It is almost a given, that you work in partnership with service users, being led and guided by their needs, choices, and aspirations (RCOT 2017)
During my time at bOunceT, I have been involved in excellent opportunities for joined up working through the form of TAC (Team Around Child) meetings. As bOunceT were asked to attend a TAC meeting during my placement, I had the chance to join in. Speaking on behalf of bOunceT as I had been involved in the sessions, I was able to contribute to discussion, and follow up this meeting with a report. Having had the chance to work with the TAC in this way, has been a massive learning opportunity and a great example of the discussions required to provide the right support for each child.
Now, although there is still plenty of learning ahead, I feel becoming familiar with GIRFEC, and seeing it put into practice at bOunceT, has been hugely beneficial for my understanding as a future practitioner. Hopefully, my take on the GIRFEC approach, has been as interesting a read as it was to write.
The Scottish government., 2020. Policy: getting it right for every child (GIRFEC). [online]. [viewed 5 october] Available from: https://www.gov.scot/policies/girfec/
Health and care professions council., 2018. The standards of proficiency for occupational therapists [online]. [viewed 5 October 2020]. Available from: https://www.hcpc-uk.org/standards/standards-of-proficiency/occupational-therapists/
Health and care professions council., 2018. The standards of conduct performance and ethics [online]. [viewed 5 October 2020]. Available from: https://www.hcpc-uk.org/standards/standards-of-conduct-performance-and-ethics/
Royal college of occupational therapists., 2017. Standards of proficiency. [online]. [viewed 7 october 2020]. Available from: https://www.rcot.co.uk/practice-resources/rcot-publications/downloads/rcot-standards-and-ethics