NIROMP chair, Sharon Martin, said:
Today I have provided the following submission to the Social Care Review – Call for Ideas. IROs and those who manage them were invited to join colleagues in a series of meetings aimed at generating ideas for change . Sessions were well attended and emergent themes remained consistent over multiple sessions. Evident throughout has been the strength of IRO commitment to the primacy of the child’s voice, the need for more love in the system and the importance of relationships.
NIROMP submission of Ideas
What is your idea?
Recognising that relationships with children, young people and families are key enablers of better outcomes, our ideas focus on strengthening the quality of relationships across all systems.
IROs are frequently cited as performing well, staying in role and building good relationships with children, young people, families and colleagues. Our sessions have therefore identified what it is about IROs best practice and way of working and how this could be rolled out to help with staff retention and long-term relationship building across the social care system.
Our ideas do not amount to more than what we deem to be best practice, but consistent implementation would improve communication across systems, lead to better join-up and necessary cultural change. We know from repeated learning reviews that problems with information sharing, communication and effective coordination of help is critical to how services are perceived, experienced and how safety needs are met.
Our proposal is to:
Embed more multi-disciplinary spaces for reflection and bring IROs into the mix. Good outcomes are more likely with multi-disciplinary teams that involve a mix of skill, experience (including lived experience) and knowledge. Better use could be made of the professional knowledge and agency that surrounds families. For example, IROs could provide a valuable contribution to multi-disciplinary/multi-agency reflective spaces.
There are many examples of IRO services that have re-imagined their way of working to create flexible systems wrapped around the needs of the child/young person and this has been achieved without change to statutory regulation or guidance including that contained within the IRO Handbook. Such services exemplify the following qualities:
- A proactive, resolution focused approach that gives emphasis to progress chasing change and improvement.
- Clarity regards the independence of the IRO function and role, including a focus on restorative principles – building trust, working ‘with’ and ‘alongside’
- An asset and strengths-based approach to living with risk and striving for safe uncertainty through the successful development of partnerships that support peer learning, reflection and support.
- Mutual enablement of information sharing and access to sources of expertise, knowledge, experience.
- Enabling the consultancy role that IROs so often provided informally (not least because they hold the child’s story), to be more formally recognised within spaces for peer learning and reflection.
What impact do you hope this will achieve?
Improved communication, join-up and learning across all systems. It would help address difficulties associated with social work recruitment and retention by improving the consistency of support experienced through more collegial ways of working.