Youth Buddy – A New Dimension in Care Planning

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By Joanna Uchwat, Clinical Charge Nurse, Kent and Medway Adolescent Unit 

Recovery is for everyone. It is a unique, personal journey with a focus on the unique outcomes for each individual who experiences a mental health problem. Recovery focused practice has been introduced and piloted in many adult services across the UK. As many professionals and Recovery orientated organisations indicate, it is not unusual for CAMHS to be a difficult environment to deliver and maintain sustainable changes. This is due to the complexity of cases the service has to deal with, as well as the wide range of individuals and professionals being involved in the child/young person and family care, namely families themselves, friends, schools, primary health, social as well as specialist care professionals. The idea of recovery has been perceived by many as an adult concept, although the amount of evidence supporting young people and families’ involvement in health and social care service development and assessment is increasing.

In May 2013 Ash ward based in Kent and Medway Adolescent Unit signed up to Star Wards. Marion Janner (Star Wards’ founder) and other service users have developed a simple booklet ‘Ward Buddy’ that focused on Recovery principles for adult patients to help them develop an understanding of their predicament in terms of mental health illness. The team agreed that having such booklet on the ward would be a great idea and the booklet was adjusted to young people’s needs.

South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust as many other trusts in the UK has its own Social Inclusion and recovery Strategy and one of the ways of putting recovery in action is to develop Support and Recovery Plan (SRP) (now it has changed its name to Community Plan)  for each service user. SRP was developed with a view to enable a successful transition from inpatient service to community and general practices.

After discussions being held by senior staff and recovery champions on Ash ward, it has been decided that Ward Buddy for Youth would be more young persons’ friendly than proposed SRP by SLaM but all parts of SRP would be reflected in Woodland Youth Buddy youth version. The team also agreed that Woodland Youth Buddy would be always offered as a choice to SRP/Community Plan. The official booklet’s name is Woodland Youth Buddy (WYB).

The Woodland Youth Buddy adds an entire new dimension to care planning and the arrangement of this document can be easily adjusted to the developmental needs of a young person and encourages family participation. The booklet’s “easy to adjust” format also focuses on risk management and encourages the move from oppressive practice to a co-produced safety plan where the young person and their family form an integral part of the support system in contingency planning which in turn empowers the young person, their family, and increases resilience. The booklet is focused on unique outcomes for each Service User, WYB can become an alternative to traditional care planning. Additionally, all pages in WYB can be used as care plans, such as Risk Management Plan, Leave Plan, and Stress Management Plan etc.

In April 2018 the ward’s name changed to Kent and Medway Adolescent Unit and all new staff received an extensive individual training regarding the use of the WYB booklet.

The booklet also has been expanded of a few more addendums that would support the young person with a specific issues, such as Anger management, Anxiety or Self-Harm. WYB is offered to all young people who are admitted to our unit as one of the therapeutic tools that are used on the unit.

WYB is a working progress and we welcome any feedback from our young people and parents and happy to adjust it.

Download the booklet here

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