Top tips for implementing the Graded Care Profile

Robyn Johnson, Dawn Hodson and Amanda Bunn share tips for implementing the Graded Care Profile

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The Graded Care Profile is an assessment tool designed to help practitioners identify when a child's at risk of, or suffering, neglect.

The NSPCC evaluated the Graded Care Profile and identified what would aid implementation of the service. As part of this work we also looked at the implementation of 2 other assessment tools: Signs of Safety and Common Assessment Framework (CAF).

We wanted to share the helpful things we've learnt about introducing and embedding assessment tools, specifically for the Graded Care Profile. Most of these factors would be useful in implementing other tools too.

Tip 1: Deliver quality training

Good quality training is not only vital in the evidence and theory behind the tool, but also how it should be used with families.

The beneficial features of training identified in the Graded Care Profile evaluation were:

  • to use the tool as soon as possible following the training
  • flexibility in order to accommodate staff turnover
  • frontline managers attending training so that they were able, and committed to, providing ongoing support
  • the opportunity to share positive experiences of using the tool.

Tip 2: Have strong leadership and clear implementation

Strong senior management leadership and implementation, supported by the Local Safeguarding Children Board (LSCB) plan, were crucial in the Graded Care Profile evaluation.

A group to manage and monitor the implementation, led at senior management level, needs to be set up. It is also very important to secure commitment to the Graded Care Profile from the LSCB and social care director.

It is very helpful to assign at least one enthusiastic “Graded Care Profile champion” within each agency to drive it forward and offer ongoing support from the beginning of the process.

Also, make sure you understand the evidence base. The question you want the tool to answer should be clear so, in turn, you can be clear with team members as to why you have chosen to use it. 

Familiarise yourself with the evidence base of the tool and communicate this with colleagues. 

Tip 3: Make the right decisions

Positive decision-making is crucial when choosing:

  • Process. Be clear at which point of the spectrum the process you choose should be used. And know whether it'll be mandated or optional. The research identified that there was less use when there was no mandatory expectation. Also know how you'll record any changes to procedures, threshold documents, referral mechanisms or related guidance.
  • Where to start the implementation. It's helpful to start on a small scale to get the implementation embedded and proven with one team, before broadening it out.
  • Who will be involved. It is absolutely vital to choose the right people to be involved from the start. It’s better if they self-select and apply to be involved in the work. They need to be motivated and eager to try the tool, and managed by team leaders who are as enthusiastic about the tool as they are. Managers must be willing to roll their sleeves up initially, providing the practical support required.

Tip 4: Ongoing monitoring and support

Explain to everyone involved that the use of the tool will be monitored on an ongoing basis. This should include not only the numbers completed but also the quality of the tool and its impact. Communicate and share the plans for an audit and monitoring during training.

You also need to support the team members and managers leading the implementation of the tool. Allow them to develop their confidence so they can act as practice support for colleagues when they start using it.

Staff should have an access route to senior managers and share feedback directly. In the Graded Care Profile evaluation, it was seen as helpful if managers had had the opportunity to understand how the Graded Care Profile was used and the results that could be achieved through it. This then helps to embed it further into practice.

Tip 5: Maintain enthusiasm

Try these simple tips to keep everyone engaged:

  • offer “review workshops” for those who have been trained
  • demonstrate the positive impact the Graded Care Profile is having on families
  • provide opportunities for practitioners to share their experiences and success stories locally
  • set realistic timescales. It can take between 3 to 5 years to embed changes into practice. This becomes progressively easier once structures and training are in place.

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