On Wednesday 13 March we were joined by over 100 practitioners, managers and senior leaders to discuss how we can collectively improve the health and wellbeing outcomes for Scotland's care experienced young people. 

Here we will be sharing snapshots of the day, including presentations and useful links. 

Welcome from Jasmin-Kasaya Pilling and Pamela Graham

Our co-hosts for the day, Scotland's answer to Ant and Dec, Jasmin-Kasaya Pilling and Staf's Head of Operations, Pamela Graham welcomed the delegates. Along with outlining the plan for the day Pamela spoke of how health and wellbeing is inextricably linked in everything we do and improving it was a 'hard nut to crack' especially in these financially challenging times when we are all having to do more with less. She highlighted the importance of strong relationships being at the heart of all our work and life along with a passion and commitment to make things better. She closed by inviting delegate to open their minds and their hearts to what they were about to hear. 

Keynote presentation: Iona Colvin, Chief Social Work Advisor, Scottish Government

Iona provided this year's keynote presentation. She started by highlighting Staf's Moving On Change Programme and the 100 Days of Listening and the real need for mental health support, as highlighted by the Promise Oversight Board. She urged those attending to 'get behind the Promise and focus on delivery and the importance of collaboration and joint working. She highlighted the work being done to emulate GIFREC to Getting it Right for Everyone. She also spoke of the new National Social Work Agency, designed to support social workers to get it right and deal with the recruitment and retention crisis currently being experienced in Scotland. The agency will have a foot in the policy door to ensure that policy pledges are realistic and deliverable. She also spoke of a need for culture change in social work, something that's 'easy to say but really difficult to do'. The agency will also be a means of sharing good practice and reducing the inconsistent delivery currently being experienced. Finally she focused on the importance of being trauma informed and the need to address vicarious trauma. 

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Claire Stuart, Head of Insights, The Promise Scotland and Thomas Carlton, Moving On Strategic Lead, Staf.

Following Iona, we were delighted to welcome Claire Stuart and Thomas Carlton who were focusing on what we mean by outcomes,  what is it you are trying to achieve and the need to sometimes go slower to go faster. 

Claire presented the cake making analogy, the importance of getting the inputs right but also having a flexible approach and the need to make adjustments and you can learn from the process and requires constant conversation and collaboration from many partners. 

Thomas spoke of outcomes in action in relation to the Moving On Change Programme, and how the next phase, following the 100 days of listening to Moving On experts about solutions to ensure outcomes are improved, will be about agreeing desired outcomes, which will then be tested and refined to ensure they are achievable. 

Claire also spoke about the importance of looking at qualitative data which numbers and targets fail to achieve, There is a need to ask 'how does it feel'? She spoke of the need to use date to improve not just prove. The final words from Thomas neatly summarised their input, 'to change outcomes we need to improve the care journey and you need to test and refine to make sure it's deliverable'.

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Mark Hardy, University of Edinburgh

Following a coffee and cake break, the delegates were welcomed back by Mark Hardy, a PHD student from the University of Edinburgh. Unfortunately Mark's colleague Luke was unable to attend as planned but Mark was able to share the findings from Luke's research. 

Mark shared the research he had been carrying out on health outcomes for care experienced young people by analysing existing research globally. He explained there was a need to discover what the inequalities are before working out how to tackle them. The majority of research to date had been conducted in the US, with only a handful of studies in Scotland. The results of the scoping study highlighted key predictors of positive outcomes: supportive relationships, service involvement and stability. He also highlighted the need for education, housing and employment to all be experienced well. Interestingly he noted Norway's 'Health In All' policy which ensured that the health impacts were considered in every policy decision. 

Mark also went on to discuss Luke's qualitative research involving care experienced people aged 18 - 66. His research into health outcomes revealed the impact of poverty, moving, disruption and the need for unconditional love, choice, agency, a sense of meaning and purpose in the world which they found through relationships. 

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Moira Greentree, Sarah Jane McKillop, Ashleigh Donaldson, The Village & The Why Not Trust and Fiona Carmichael, Early Years Scotland 

Following a delicious lunch, we heard from the Why Not Trust and in particular their team working on The Village, a project aimed at providing a scaffolding for care experienced parents. Why Not Trust's CEO Moira Greentree opened by sharing the background to The Village and a realisation that social supports were needed for some care experienced parents, as they are essential to all parents. The Village does not need evidence of care experience, or ask people to share their stories and supports are based on the needs of the person.

Fiona Carmichael from Early Years Scotland shared the work she has been doing to support the villagers and the many areas of support needed and provided, with finance being high up the list. She shared how they were able to advise on entitlements such as the Council Tax exemption and Eligible 2s. Fiona was also able to share feedback from those who have been part of the Village so far, demonstrating its impact.

Sarah-Jane McKillop then went on to share the work The Village have been doing with Inverclyde Health and Social Care Partnership. Their involvement had enabled many parents to access the services, breakdown barriers and help support parents by creating a social network of scaffolding. 

Ashleigh Donaldson discussed the role of peer mentoring in the village which helped to create strong, trusting relationships benefiting the mentor and mentee.

Finally, Moira presented on the care experienced parents charter, inspired by the charter in Wales. Following consultation, involving Staf and The Promise, it was clear that there is need for a charter and the development of a 'corporate grandparenting' role and that parenting assessments should be reviewed and no longer just a 'tick box' exercise. 

Moira closed by asking people to spread the word about The Village, as they hope to provide a scaffolding of support for as many care experienced parents as they can. 

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Lightning Talks 
The afternoon continued with a series of lightning talks, demonstrating examples of best practice across the country.

Helen Murray and Elizabeth Briody, NHS Lanarkshire

Helen and Elizabeth presented on their new 2 year pilot to provide a Through Care and Aftercare nurse service which was launched at the end of 2023. During the presentation we heard about the challenges they had faced but also the progress they had seen for the young people they were working with in a very short time. By providing bespoke support to those with care experience they were able to work directly with social work and health services, tailoring responses to suit the needs of the young person and fast-tracking treatment or access to health providers.

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Jill Wilson, Health Improvement Lead, Sexual Health Service, Sandyford 

Jill began her talk by highlighting the dramatic increase in sexually transmitted diseases alongside the prevalence and normalisation or pornography in Scotland. She also noted the unacceptable inequality faced by many care experienced young people in regards to sexual health. In response to feedback from care experienced young people engaged with Who Cares? Scotland, Jill spoke of how they worked together to create a toolkit to ensure young people and those who care for them are supported to talk about sexual health and have access to information. 

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Download Toolkit guide 

Ashely Johnstone, NHS Dumfries and Galloway

"When the flower doesn’t grow, you change the environment in which it grows, not the flower

Our final lightning talk came from Ashley who reflected on the 10 year journey she has been on developing a holistic care experienced health and wellbeing team. She shared how physical and mental health services were combined, the provision dictated by the young people, leading to the creation of a 'miniature CAMHS service'. Ashley also shared how they are now focusing on transitions, looking to support older young people. 

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Roundtable: What can you do? What should the Government do?

Our final session of the Summit focused on what those in the room could do to improve health and wellbeing outcomes. The delegates were asked what resonated with them and what asks they have for the Government, selecting the top 3 of these which Staf will then feedback to our colleagues at the Scottish Government and COSLA. We will be sharing the results on here shortly.

We also encouraged delegates to share their pledges for care experienced people which you can see below.

Closing remarks
Our co-host Jasmin closed the day by reflecting on the common themes of the day including 

  • Empowering relationships 
  • Scaffolding 
  • Lifelong support 
  • Breaking down barriers
  • Unconditional love 
  • Joint working 
  • Wraparound services 
  • Sharing of best practice 

Thank you to everyone who attended, our speakers, hosts, exhibitors and headline sponsor Kibble.