In this new blog Head of House for Phoenix's Grace House, Carly Dawson, discusses the rationale for creating a trauma-informed programme and the process she followed.
How we created our gender-specific trauma-informed programme
Grace House is a gender specific service in North London, developed to meet the needs of women who require abstinence-based residential substance misuse treatment in a safe and therapeutic environment. Delivered by an all-female team of therapeutic workers our programme has been developed using best evidence and practice around trauma-informed approaches to care.
We have recently re-modelled our 12 week group programme to ensure it is trauma-informed.
Trauma Informed Care is a framework for delivery of services and treatment that involves understanding, recognising and responding to the effects of trauma amongst programme recipients. People who have experienced trauma will often adopt maladjusted coping mechanisms that can result in behaviour that is found challenging, resulting in exclusion from services. Trauma impacts across life domains and exposure increases the risk of vulnerabilities: mental health, substance abuse and physical health needs.
A trauma-informed service works with the whole person, taking past trauma into account when attempting to understand behaviours, and providing a considered response. We wanted to ensure that during treatment women could begin to heal from Trauma through our rolling group programme and accredited workshop.
We developed our approach through attendance at training, and consultation with staff and clients, redeveloping our group programme in line with trauma-informed guidelines. We consulted with our clients to determine how best to approach the re-model and to learn that the core values of trauma informed services was a consideration. We had to address whether the service and group programme was safe, trustworthy and offered choice, collaboration and empowerment in order to ensure that the approach was trauma informed and suitable for the people who use our services.
Evaluation and sharing learning
We captured feedback from the 12-week programme via client and staff feedback forms, after each group session. Through such feedback we have been able to better meet needs, offer a flexible and comprehensive approach and define our expected outcomes. We have shared our learning and group structure with other Phoenix residential services who as part of Phoenix’s new residential strategy are undergoing an exploration and update of the Therapeutic Community group programme. Ultimately we have taken learning from our increased partnership working and the benefits of doing so, adapting our staffing structure to best need client and service need including the introduction of a nursing role.
Staff and clients now benefit from a structured trauma informed 12 week group programme in a way that they didn’t before. This ensures that a holistic approach to recovery is taken in our treatment programme and we can improve on treatment retention, outcomes and aftercare support for our clients.
Carly Dawson - Head of House - Grace House