WillisPalmer

A Message from Lord Pickles and Lord Blunkett, followed by WillisPalmer's best practice article

The ability to listen and learn from one another has always been vital in parliament, in business and in most aspects of daily life. But at this particular moment in time, as national and global events continue to reiterate, it is uncommonly crucial that we forge new channels of communication and reinforce existing ones. The following article from WillisPalmer is an attempt to do just that. We would welcome your thoughts on this or any other Parliamentary Review article.

Blunkett signature Rt Hon The Lord David Blunkett
Pickles signature Rt Hon The Lord Eric Pickles

www.willispalmer.com

BEST PRACTICE SPONSOR 2020
11WILLISPALMER |
HEALTH & SOCIAL WORK
CEO Mark Willis
WillisPalmer works with
vulnerable children across
the UK
Safeguarding vulnerable children at risk of going into care
cannot be achieved successfully when various disciplines
are working in silos. This is why, according to CEO Mark
Willis, WillisPalmer has recently launched what he says is a
“groundbreaking” new family assessment model. Proud to have
been delivering high-quality services to children and families
alike since 2004, WillisPalmer works across the UK social care
sector to deliver training and assessment services.
A social work colleague and I launched WillisPalmer over 15 years ago to provide
independent self-employed social workers to local authorities where they required
highly skilled professionals with experience and expertise for complex cases.
We started small, and over the past 15 years we have grown to become the largest
provider of independent social work services in the UK. During that period, we have
never lost sight of our core social work values and have remained committed to
improving outcomes for children across the country.
Based in Colchester, Essex, we now have almost 300 professionals recruited
nationally, enabling us to respond to tight deadlines in complex cases where
children may be taken into care.
We have been awarded numerous contracts for assessment services, where, for
example, our independent social workers assess a parent’s ability to care for their
child’s needs adequately. We run training courses in areas such as mental health
and try to make others understand the impact this can have on parenting or
understanding self-harm in young people.
FACTS ABOUT
WILLISPALMER
»CEO: Mark Willis
»Established in 2004
»Based in Colchester, Essex
»Services: Multidisciplinary
family assessment services for
children and families
»No. of employees: 13 with
300 external contractors
WillisPalmer
THE PARLIAMENTARY REVIEW
Highlighting best practice
THE PARLIAMENTARY REVIEW
Highlighting best practice
12 | WILLISPALMER
We also run mentoring programmes
to support and develop frontline social
workers and managers. We advise
solicitors in child abuse litigation cases
– often in respect of adults who have
been abused many years previously.
Furthermore, we have a range of
quality assurance and auditing
functions to ensure reports carried out
by professionals are comprehensive,
child focused and provide a detailed
response to the instructions that have
been issued.
The road to success: not
without challenges
In 2010, the Ministry of Justice-
sponsored Legal Aid Agency capped
expert witness fees for independent
social workers to £30 an hour or £33
an hour in London, meaning many of
our experienced self-employed social
workers were unable to work for the
imposed rates and considered leaving
the profession.
However, the public law outline, which
sets out the duties local authorities
have when thinking about taking
a case to court to ask for a care
order to take a child into care or
for a supervision order to be made,
was revised in 2013. It introduced a
statutory time limit for all care and
supervision cases to be completed
within 26 weeks wherever possible.
This led to an increasing demand for
social workers experienced in court
work as local authorities came under
significant strain to meet the 26-week
timescale. As a result, ISWs were called
in to help ease the burden and ensure
deadlines were met.
We saw demand for our services
increase, and it was against this
backdrop that we launched the “Multi-
Disciplinary Family Assessment Model”.
This time-limited, cost-effective and
evidence-based service is a parenting
assessment carried out over a period of
eight weeks in the family home.
This social work-led intervention
involves a team of clinical
psychologists, mental health
practitioners and family support
workers who work together to provide
a specialised, tailored assessment
by examining complex interpersonal
relationships between family members.
The child remains at home and their
safety is ensured by family support
workers who can provide 24-hour
monitoring if required.
All professionals involved with the
family meet at the start of the process
to ensure that we understand what
is required and to plan the format
of the assessment. This is followed
by a meeting with the family to
discuss their perception of what the
concerns are and the programme
ofintervention.
Genuinely multidisciplinary
The assessment is completed over an
eight-week period and the core team
meet fortnightly to discuss progress.
During the assessment period, the
family will be given parenting advice
and coaching to help them to develop
alternative strategies. The team
observes the family’s everyday routine
and interactions. A midpoint review
at week three provides feedback
onprogress.
Managing Director
Sarah Stowe
Our
multidisciplinary
family
assessment
model is time-
limited, cost-
effective and
evidence-based
13WILLISPALMER |
HEALTH & SOCIAL WORK
At six weeks, the outcomes of the
various assessments are with the social
worker who produces the final report.
The process concludes at week eight,
when the report and its accompanying
recommendations are presented at a
final meeting where any continuing
support needs can be identified.
The model has the following benefits:
»It allows the family to remain safely
in their own home during the whole
assessment process, allowing them
to remain linked to their community
»There is improved quality of evidence
as a result of observing parenting in
the family’s own environment as a
multidisciplinary team
»It saves the local authority money
as families do not need to go
into residential care – typical
savings compared with residential
assessments are more than £20,000
per assessment
»It is a swift intervention, completed
within eight weeks, and parents
learn while being assessed
»The assessment is tailored to the
family’s needs
»It reduces delay and uncertainty for
families while remaining within the
court timetable
»The process is genuinely
multidisciplinary
»The report is evidence based,
with clear recommendations for
futureplanning
Thanks to its flexibility, the model
can be used in multiple ways and is
completely tailored to the family. It is
evidence based, involving assessment
and intervention drawn appropriately
from multiple disciplines to develop a
clear understanding of the issues and
potential solutions.
Going forward, we remain confident
we will continue to transition our
entire organisation to suit the
multidisciplinary requirements that
ensure the best outcomes for children.
We know the problems that local
authorities have will only get more
complex – and multidisciplinary
approaches, just like our cutting-
edge family assessment model, will
continue to be of great use across the
publicsector.
There is improved
quality of
evidence as a
result of
observing
parenting in the
family’s own
environment as a
multidisciplinary
team
WillisPalmer quality
assurance team
BEST PRACTICE SPONSOR 2020
THE PARLIAMENTARY REVIEW
Highlighting best practice
12 | WILLISPALMER
We also run mentoring programmes
to support and develop frontline social
workers and managers. We advise
solicitors in child abuse litigation cases
– often in respect of adults who have
been abused many years previously.
Furthermore, we have a range of
quality assurance and auditing
functions to ensure reports carried out
by professionals are comprehensive,
child focused and provide a detailed
response to the instructions that have
been issued.
The road to success: not
without challenges
In 2010, the Ministry of Justice-
sponsored Legal Aid Agency capped
expert witness fees for independent
social workers to £30 an hour or £33
an hour in London, meaning many of
our experienced self-employed social
workers were unable to work for the
imposed rates and considered leaving
the profession.
However, the public law outline, which
sets out the duties local authorities
have when thinking about taking
a case to court to ask for a care
order to take a child into care or
for a supervision order to be made,
was revised in 2013. It introduced a
statutory time limit for all care and
supervision cases to be completed
within 26 weeks wherever possible.
This led to an increasing demand for
social workers experienced in court
work as local authorities came under
significant strain to meet the 26-week
timescale. As a result, ISWs were called
in to help ease the burden and ensure
deadlines were met.
We saw demand for our services
increase, and it was against this
backdrop that we launched the “Multi-
Disciplinary Family Assessment Model”.
This time-limited, cost-effective and
evidence-based service is a parenting
assessment carried out over a period of
eight weeks in the family home.
This social work-led intervention
involves a team of clinical
psychologists, mental health
practitioners and family support
workers who work together to provide
a specialised, tailored assessment
by examining complex interpersonal
relationships between family members.
The child remains at home and their
safety is ensured by family support
workers who can provide 24-hour
monitoring if required.
All professionals involved with the
family meet at the start of the process
to ensure that we understand what
is required and to plan the format
of the assessment. This is followed
by a meeting with the family to
discuss their perception of what the
concerns are and the programme
ofintervention.
Genuinely multidisciplinary
The assessment is completed over an
eight-week period and the core team
meet fortnightly to discuss progress.
During the assessment period, the
family will be given parenting advice
and coaching to help them to develop
alternative strategies. The team
observes the family’s everyday routine
and interactions. A midpoint review
at week three provides feedback
onprogress.
Managing Director
Sarah Stowe
Our
multidisciplinary
family
assessment
model is time-
limited, cost-
effective and
evidence-based
13WILLISPALMER |
HEALTH & SOCIAL WORK
At six weeks, the outcomes of the
various assessments are with the social
worker who produces the final report.
The process concludes at week eight,
when the report and its accompanying
recommendations are presented at a
final meeting where any continuing
support needs can be identified.
The model has the following benefits:
»It allows the family to remain safely
in their own home during the whole
assessment process, allowing them
to remain linked to their community
»There is improved quality of evidence
as a result of observing parenting in
the family’s own environment as a
multidisciplinary team
»It saves the local authority money
as families do not need to go
into residential care – typical
savings compared with residential
assessments are more than £20,000
per assessment
»It is a swift intervention, completed
within eight weeks, and parents
learn while being assessed
»The assessment is tailored to the
family’s needs
»It reduces delay and uncertainty for
families while remaining within the
court timetable
»The process is genuinely
multidisciplinary
»The report is evidence based,
with clear recommendations for
futureplanning
Thanks to its flexibility, the model
can be used in multiple ways and is
completely tailored to the family. It is
evidence based, involving assessment
and intervention drawn appropriately
from multiple disciplines to develop a
clear understanding of the issues and
potential solutions.
Going forward, we remain confident
we will continue to transition our
entire organisation to suit the
multidisciplinary requirements that
ensure the best outcomes for children.
We know the problems that local
authorities have will only get more
complex – and multidisciplinary
approaches, just like our cutting-
edge family assessment model, will
continue to be of great use across the
publicsector.
There is improved
quality of
evidence as a
result of
observing
parenting in the
family’s own
environment as a
multidisciplinary
team
WillisPalmer quality
assurance team

www.willispalmer.com

This article was sponsored by WillisPalmer. The Parliamentary Review is wholly funded by the representatives who write for it. The publication in which this article originally appeared contained the following foreword from Rt Hon Elizabeth Truss.

Rt Hon Elizabeth Truss's Foreword For The Parliamentary Review

By Rt Hon Elizabeth Truss

Even by the standards of the day –this has been one of the most exciting and unpredictable years in British politics.

The leadership election we’ve just seen marks a huge moment in our country’s history. This government is taking a decisive new direction, embracing the opportunities of Brexit and preparing our country to flourish outside the EU.

As international trade secretary, I’ll be driving forward work on the free trade agreements that are going to be a priority for the government. Free trade isn’t just an abstract concept bandied around by technocrats. It is crucial for a strong economy and for the ability of families to make ends meet. Free trade benefits people in every part of our country, as British firms export to new markets and people doing the weekly shop have access to a wider choice of goods at lower prices.

The essence of free trade is in the title: freedom. It’s about giving people the power to exchange their goods without heavy government taxation or interference. Commerce and free exchange are the engine room of prosperity and social mobility. I’m determined to tackle the forces who want to hold that back.

One of my priorities is agreeing an exciting new free trade deal with the US, building on the great relationship between our two countries and the Prime Minister and US President. But I’ll also be talking to other partners including New Zealand, Australia and fast-growing Asian markets.

And with the EU too, we want a friendly and constructive relationship, as constitutional equals, and as friends and partners in facing the challenges that lie ahead – a relationship based on a deep free trade agreement. Our country produces some of the world’s most successful exports, and the opportunity to bring these to the rest of the world should make us all excited about the future. It is this excitement, optimism and ambition which I believe will come to define this government.

For too long now, we have been told Britain isn’t big or important enough to survive outside the EU – that we have to accept a deal that reflects our reduced circumstances. I say that’s rubbish. With the right policies in place, we can be the most competitive, free-thinking, prosperous nation on Earth exporting to the world and leading in new developments like AI. To do that, we’ll give the brilliant next generation of entrepreneurs the tools they need to succeed. Since 2015, there has been a staggering 85 per cent rise in the number of businesses set up by 18 to 24 year olds – twice the level set up by the same age group in France and Germany. We’ll help them flourish by championing enterprise, cutting taxes and making regulation flexible and responsive to their needs.

As we do that, we’ll level up and unite all parts of the UK with great transport links, fibre broadband in every home and proper school funding, so everyone shares in our country’s success.

2019 has been the year of brewing economic and political revolution. 2020 will be the year when a revitalised Conservative government turbo charges the economy, boosts prospects for people across the country, and catapults Britain back to the forefront of the world stage.



Rt Hon Elizabeth Truss
Secretary of State for International Development