Safeguarding review recommends a 'think family' approach to tackling complex family issues

Wednesday, 16 November 2022

The Isle of Man Safeguarding Board has published a Serious Case Management Review (SCMR) following a domestic homicide and serious assault on Island.

The review highlights the significant impact of Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) in developing mental ill health, recommending a ‘Think Family’ approach for services dealing with complex families. 

The independent review was carried out following the homicide of a mother and a serious assault on father by their son who was suffering from a severe psychiatric condition.

The ‘Think Family’ approach requires services to consider the impact of the experiences or events on all members of the household when dealing with issues such as domestic abuse or alcoholism.

It concludes that while the assault on Mr K and murder of Mrs K could not have been predicted or prevented, there are areas of learning for government agencies which are fundamental to reducing the risk of poor outcomes for others in the future.

In this case it was documented that the son had experienced multiple adverse experiences in his younger years; witnessing the domestic abuse of his mother, parental alcoholism, family instability and caring responsibilities.

The adults in the family at the centre of this review had longstanding issues with alcoholism and domestic abuse, and despite multiple agencies intervening or offering support, all assistance was refused by them. It was also documented that the son was listed as a young carer for his disabled father, but this was not adequately recognised and there was a lack of professional curiosity about his day to day lived experience.

The report says that it is critical that practitioners do not just focus on the experiences and perspectives of the victim and perpetrator but include all members of the family and household by having a ‘Think Family’ approach. The report also makes recommendations to improve the measures in place to tackle domestic abuse, support and identify young carers and improve the sharing of information between agencies.

The report made four specific recommendations to the safeguarding agencies that make up the Safeguarding Board. The Board have accepted the recommendations as set out in their response:

  • The Isle of Man Safeguarding Board should assure itself that there are robust measures in place for responding to incidents of domestic abuse, including considering the risks and vulnerabilities of all people within the household, particularly children and young people

  • Manx Care should lead an awareness raising campaign about being a young carer. The campaign should target key services for children and young people

  • The Department of Health and Social Care, working in partnership with Manx Care, should assure there are robust processes in place to correctly identify an adult/child’s registered GP

  • The review should be shared with the Department of Home Affairs to inform the implementation of its Domestic Abuse strategy to address some of the concerns around multi-agency notification and risk assessments.

The Independent Chair of the Safeguarding Board, Lesley Walker, said:

‘This review highlights the need for everyone to understand the impact that adverse childhood experiences can have on children’s lives and the importance of professionals and services intervening early to prevent trauma.’

She added that:

‘it is critical that practitioners responding to complex family issues, especially domestic abuse should consider the risks and vulnerabilities of all people within the household, with a particular emphasis on children and the impact on their daily lived experiences’.

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