Achieving better outcomes for children and young people at Parkerville Children and Youth Services through radically personalised shared care journeys

blog | Words Kaci Oliphant | 29 Sep 2021

Following a co-design process involving over 100 young people, families, carers, community group representatives and survivors of the Stolen Generation, a new model of Out-of-Home Care for Parkerville CYC is being developed with the support of Lotterywest.

Faced with an increasing number of children requiring out-of-home care in Western Australia, and driven by a desire to transform the experiences of children in care and their families, Parkerville Children and Youth Care made the bold decision to redesign the way it provides out-of-home care services in December 2019. Now in mid-2021, Parkerville has embarked on an ambitious journey, supported by Innovation Unit, to test out a model of care that is centred around elevating the voice of children and their families and setting deeper connection as the default. This model has the potential to significantly improve outcomes for young people who come into Parkerville’s care, now and into the future.

Over 2020, Innovation Unit worked with Parkerville and those with a stake in its success to develop a blueprint for a ‘radically personalised’ model of Out of Home care that is ‘shared’; it intentionally connects carers with families. The model is based on the understanding that every child and young person has different needs and aspirations while they are in out-of-home care, and that these need to act as guiding principles. Moreover, it is designed to strengthen and continue the vital role that families and communities play in supporting young people into adulthood.

Overall, the approach aims to give young people and their families more choice and control in a situation that many find overwhelming, and be more responsive to the things that children and young people say are important to them. 

Thanks to the generous support of Lotterywest, Parkerville will now prototype and test the new model over 2021-22 with key stakeholders, seeking to learn more about how the model works in practice and how it can be scaled to benefit more young people in care.

Design principles guiding the new model of care

Four principles have been embedded in the model from strategy through to ground level practice:

Radically personalised: The experience of each child at Parkerville is driven by their personal goals, resources, and preferences, with a future-focused view to the time they are no longer in care. We are flexible enough to change ourselves to support choice and control.

Connected by default: We best support children by also supporting their families and communities. By identifying the people children and young people want to have connections with, we can support and build their capacity to share in children’s care planning and delivery. As and when appropriate, Parkerville plays an active role in facilitating safe family restoration.

Embedded culture: Respect for and connection to Aboriginal Culture is central to our work and is given equal weighting to clinical practice.

Heart first, then head and hands: Radically personalised shared care cannot be achieved without a strong, skilled workforce with aligned values, and responsive systems to support them.


The approach

Making evidence-informed decisions is key to effecting meaningful change. Parkerville and Innovation Unit are taking a prototyping approach, as opposed to running a traditional pilot to trial the new model of care.

Pilots are large scale, long-term, expensive projects that leave little room for trial and error as the model has already been decided on before it has been tested. The risks can be high with pilots, and there are often many ‘what ifs…?’ that remain at the end.

Prototyping is a more efficient and generative method of testing and learning, allowing us to follow where the data leads us, react to feedback, learn from what works and what doesn’t and make changes based on what we discover. Ultimately, this will lead to a service that is more attuned to the diverse contexts of children and young people, their families, communities and carers, and is more likely to have an impact.


A diverse team

Parkerville, with support from Innovation Unit, has established a design team to develop the next level of detail about how they will prototype and implement the elements of the new model that was designed in 2020. This team consists of the Practice Lead and Learning Lead from Parkerville, two dedicated roles that are shaping and guiding this work to keep it consistent with best practice and the learnings Parkerville gathers from this and other work. They are supported by a team with relevant experience in delivering care, one of Parkerville’s Aboriginal Practice Leads, and young people with lived experience of care.

Parkerville has hired two Family Link Workers, which is a new role and a critical component of the new model.

The Family Link Worker is responsible to do the creative work necessary to gather the people in a child’s life in a safe and practical way and help them make decisions together, which reflect the things that are important to the child. 

The first two Family Link Workers hired by Parkerville each have deep experience in the sector and a commitment to seeing things done better. They round out our design team.

What are we doing now?

The IUANZ team has facilitated two design sprints with this group, diving into two key service moments. The first was My Plan, a child-centric planning process to support the young person’s wellbeing and bring their voice to the forefront of care processes. The second is “the Bridge” (originally Circles), a safe and informal process for creating connection between carers and families.

Prototypes of My Plan and the Bridge process will be tested with relevant reference groups and also brought to life in current care at a number of identified sites in Perth Metro and the Murchison. Feedback from these tests will inform how the team iterates these elements of the new model. This will in turn inform how My Plan and the Bridge process are brought to life in Parkerville’s new out-of-home care practice.

Momentum is building around this project as we continue a rhythm of design sprints and testing prototypes. Parkerville has also set up smaller learning loops to capture the insights as they prototype other elements of the overall model.


What’s next?

We have three more design sprints with Parkerville’s OHC design team before Christmas to further explore themes around connection and culture. These will help the team continue to weave together the key elements of the new model and bring it to life in Parkerville’s Out of Home care practice.

Parkerville is also hosting a workshop to gather perspectives like-minded organisations to create more positive outcomes for children and young people who are on a shared care journey.

Until then, read more about our initial co-design process and browse the complete radically personalised shared care model here.


Project Team:

Lauren Dixon – Senior Project Lead

Jethro Sercombe – Director Innovation Practice

Kaci Oliphant – Graduate Project Officer