Part 2: What can health services do to respond to victims of family violence?

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Introduction

How a successful programme fits in everyday practice

Evaluations of Violence Intervention Programme highlight that a systematic approach can achieve organisational and attitudinal change. Central to this is developing training programmes, practice protocols, standardised documentation, support processes, posters, monitoring and evaluation (Campbell et al 2001).

The systems that support the VIP are both national and those recommended for DHB VIP.

National systems infrastructure

Pie chart with 6 segments: funding VIP coordinators in DHBs; Family Violence Intervention Guidelines; resources (MOH Family Violence website, HIIRC website, posters, cue cards, pamphlets); technical advice and national meetings (National VIP Manager for DHB, National Network VIP Coordinator meetings); VIP training contracts; monitoring and evaluation (national evaluation of DHBs, Quality Improvement Activity resource kit).

DHB systems infrastructure

Pie chart with 6 segments: senior management support and community collaboration; policies, standardised documentation peer-support; resources (posters, cue cards, pamphlets), VIP Coordinator Service reorientation Clinical Champions; staff training core, in-service and refresher; quality improvement: monitoring, audit and evaluation.

The pie chart above depicts the ‘systems check’ for each service to ensure that all support processes are established, prior to beginning the VIP. These mutually reinforcing activities include:

  1. senior management support and community collaboration
  2. guidelines and policies
  3. resources including cue cards, posters, pamphlets and flowcharts
  4. funded VIP coordinators including staff support, mentoring and supervision
  5. training
  6. quality improvement, monitoring, audit and evaluation.

Reorienting services and starting where success is likely

A key message that can be shared with staff is that Violence Intervention Programme is core to a health professional role. Health professionals have a responsibility to identify family violence, assess health and risk, and refer victims of abuse because the prevalence of violence and its health impact make it our business.

Most health professionals are taught to fix a problem, but this does not work in partner abuse intervention. Partner abuse intervention is not a ‘quick fix’; instead we are successful when we empower the person experiencing abuse. Offering the intervention is the intervention.

A Violence Intervention Programme, which includes sensitive enquiry questions, requires an environment that is ready and receptive to change. Start where the programme is wanted and where success is likely to occur.


Management support

 1. Gaining management mandate for the introduction of VIP

A trigger initiates the interest for developing a Violence Intervention Programme. Examples of such triggers may include the results from the Ministry of Health’s Audit of DHB responsiveness to family violence, a sentinel event or a staff member with an enthusiasm for implementing Violence Intervention Programme. 

Consideration to implement a Violence Intervention Programme must ensure alignment with current legislation and government policy. Examples include the Children's Action Plan and Vulnerable Children Act 2014. The Vulnerable Children Act identifies government priorities for Vulnerable Children and the Vulnerable Children's Plan. Further it requires prescribed state services to adopt, report on and require child protection policies. It also outlines regulations regarding childrens worker safety checking.

In addition, there is growing public expectation for health services and other organisations to be responsive to family violence.

A person or persons may be charged with developing this programme. This may be an assumed or designated responsibility.

A senior management sponsor who has a direct link to the executive leadership team endorses the programme. This person may be responsible for reporting on Violence Intervention Programme performance indicators for the organisation.

A plan of action is developed to generate interest in Violence Intervention Programme within the organisation. This may include setting up a programme steering group.

The plan may include making a presentation to the executive leadership team, seeking their endorsement for developing a Violence Intervention Programme. The organisation should be encouraged to include the Violence Intervention Programme within their strategic documents, eg, district annual plan in response to Violence Intervention Programme performance indicators.

A business case is written for a formal Violence Intervention Programme with support from the senior management sponsor.

Management endorsement is the key to a successful programme.

Management endorsement is demonstrated in:

  • key documents, containing child abuse and intimate partner violence interventions, for example, district annual plans
  • funding supports, having dedicated coordinators to ensure a coordinated approach to programme development, implementation and evaluation
  • mandates from management for staff training
  • development of steering and/or governance groups to implement and maintain the programme.

2. Terms of reference for a Health sector Violence Intervention Programme steering group

The steering group’s terms of reference may include:

  • background information or information on the overall situation
  • a list of objectives
  • a list of key stakeholders and internal and external membership
  • operational guidelines
  • a list of milestones and objectives with timeframes
  • quality assurance processes
  • a risk analysis for the programme
  • details on the steering group management structure and membership
  • a reporting framework
  • programme authorisation.

3. Communicating with staff

Principles of a communication plan

  • Consult: Stakeholders need to be consulted during the planning, implementation and evaluation stages of a Violence Intervention Programme.
  • Inform: Stakeholders should be informed of the Violence Intervention Programme implementation plan, including updates and amendments.
  • Encourage: Stakeholders should be encouraged to give feedback in relation to service delivery, both internally and externally.
  • Support: Having a clear pathway for communication, including the communication method and who is responsible for communication, should support the implementation process.

Example communication plan

An example of a communication plan is available to download in Word or PDF format:


Collaborating with community agencies

Principles and outcomes of community collaboration

Violence Intervention Programme for health professionals focuses on a partnership approach with community agencies based on:

  • recognising that community agencies are the Violence Intervention Programme experts
  • engaging community agencies early in the programme development
  • establishing the programme in collaboration with community agencies and recognising their knowledge and expertise, which enables development of trust and partnerships between services
  • teaching together with an evaluation process that supports the mutual trust and respect required for programme progression
  • enabling staff to interact directly with community agencies
  • Increasing community agencies understanding of the DHB Violence Intervention Programme.

Community agencies involvement on the Violence Intervention Programme steering group:

  • increases the agencies’ understanding of the programme
  • signals their support of the programme
  • enables the agencies to make presentations to the programme’s steering group to raise awareness of family violence and family violence interventions
  • enables the agencies to be involved with the programme’s teaching team and participate at VIP trainings.

An example Memorandum of Understanding is available to download in PDF format:


Guideline, policy and documentation

Health sector Violence Intervention Programme policy development

1. Principles of a policy or procedure

Policies are intended to support staff practice.

A policy should define the broad areas it covers, for example, generic family violence policy or separate policies for child abuse, intimate partner violence, and elder abuse and neglect.

A policy needs to align with National Guidelines, professional standards and legislative requirements (eg, Vulnerable Children Act 2014).

The policy must meet the needs of the services it relates to. The steering/reference group process must manage collaboration, consultation and completeness, including community agency collaboration and participation, which includes Māori and Pacific consultation.

The policy should cover:

  • scope
  • principles
  • responsibilities (ie, of the DHB, service/department/unit and employee)
  • procedures for practice, including a clear intervention process with a referral pathway (this may include a flow chart delineating the process)
  • relevant legislation
  • associated documentation
  • review/audit processes.

A guide to establishing a Violence Intervention Programme policy is available to download in Word and PDF format:

2. Example of policies

Intimate Partner Violence Policy

This policy provides all district health board (DHB) staff with a framework to identify and manage intimate partner violence.

The policy also provides guidelines for the development of unit specific policies relating to identification and management of intimate partner violence.

Child Abuse and Neglect Policy – Management of

This policy provides DHB community and hospital-based staff with a framework to identify and manage actual and/or suspected child abuse and neglect. It recognises the important role and responsibility staff have in the accurate detection of suspected child abuse and/or neglect, and the early recognition of children at risk of abuse and adults at risk of abusing children.

3. Examples of standardised documentation

For examples of standardised documentation identified in the Family Violence Assessment and Intervention Guideline: Child abuse and intimate partner violence 2016, see:

Here is an example of coded intimate partner violence question as presented on the emergency department assessment form:

IPV

RE

Y

+ve

-ve

N

Initial

Key:
IPV= Intimate Partner Violence
RE = Routine Enquiry
Y = Yes, question asked
+ve = abuse disclosed
-ve = no abuse disclosed
N = No, question not asked
Initial = Initial of staff member asking the question

4. Privacy of documentation

Individual DHBs need to develop a process to manage patient information, recognising the following principles.

  • A standardised form must be used to encourage methodical documentation of the abuse disclosure.
  • The information must be stored securely to ensure that the disclosing  persons information cannot be accessed by their partner.
  • The information should be recorded so that it can be communicated between services (see Privacy Discussion document below).

Managing the Privacy of Documentation Recording Intimate Partner Violence Disclosures: A discussion document

This discussion document was written to study the process of recording intimate partner violence disclosures.

Three principles require consideration when developing a system of recording intimate partner violence disclosures.

  1. Developing a method for maintaining the privacy of disclosed information
  2. Maximising the victim’s safety
  3. Ensuring the information is communicated appropriately, thereby minimising risk to the patient and the organisation.

The document considers 3 areas.

1. Confidentiality of patient information especially from the perpetrator of abuse

While every effort is made to protect the disclosed information while the patient is in clinical areas, this cannot always be controlled. There is concern that a partner might access this information if the documentation form were filed in the general notes, and this might place the victim/patient at risk of retaliation. While every effort is made to avoid this, there will be times when patients carry their own notes to appointments.

2. Communication between health services of patient intimate partner violence risk

There is a requirement to communicate information between health care services. A system is necessary to ensure that when intimate partner violence has been identified by one service, the information is made available to all other services.

This is based on the principle of taking action to ensure the information is communicated to appropriate services, rather than being held in isolation and potentially placing the patient at risk (Commissioner for Children 2000).

3. Recording abuse information disclosed by mothers of child patients

The guideline recommends routine enquiry questioning mothers of all children presenting to health services. This raises the issue of where to store the documentation of intimate partner violence disclosed, because the mother’s information should not be held in the child’s records. This recognises the mother’s right to privacy and the risk of the partner accessing the child’s notes if that partner is a legal guardian.

For more information email the National VIP Manager.


Resources

Staff require appropriate resources to support the Violence Intervention Programme.

Resources support and educate staff every day, acting as a conscious and subconscious reminder of the need to include routine enquiry in their clinical practice.

Resources for staff need to be available before the programme is launched in the service/department/unit. Such resources include:

  • readily available policies to direct practice
  • cue cards for staff, with framing questions
  • community directories
  • flow charts in care areas
  • posters
  • victim resources, including community agency resource cards, safety plan sheets and pamphlets on agencies
  • assessment forms amended to record the routine enquiry process and outcome. This information may need to be coded to ensure a victim's partner does not inadvertently view the disclosure, which may put the victim at risk.

Go to Health professional resources to access Ministry of Health resources.


Staff support

Internal champions

Internal champions are clinically credible staff who include Violence Intervention Programme into their practice and advocate introducing intimate partner violence interventions into service/department/unit practice.

Staff who adopt the role of internal champion support change by:

  • talking informally with colleagues about the importance of Violence Intervention Programme in practice
  • supporting colleagues to develop competence in VIP practice.

A champion will encourage staff to ask patients about intimate partner violence in formal and informal ways. This may include reminding staff at the beginning of a shift to ask all female patients during that shift about intimate partner violence, reminding staff if they note that the routine enquiry hasn't been completed yet or initiating a conversation between staff about the importance of intimate partner violence interventions within practice.

A team of champions within the service/department/unit supports the Violence Intervention Programme and expands the resources available for staff as they begin to adopt the interventions in their practices.

Mentor programme

What is mentoring?

Mentoring is an important part of the internal support that is needed to implement the DHB Violence Intervention Programme.

Mentoring takes place in a cooperative and supportive relationship that is based on mutual trust and respect. A professionally experienced and competent worker provides:

  • active encouragement of trained staff to use their new skills in practice
  • opportunity for staff to share their new experiences with others
  • guidance and support when difficulties arise
  • clarification and reinforcement of Violence Intervention Programme policy (procedures and protocols)
  • direction regarding further networks, resources and personnel if a problem lies beyond their area of expertise or experience.

Skills and abilities related to Violence Intervention Programme

Mentors should be competent in the following skills and knowledge in Violence Intervention Programme:

  • dynamics, indicators and impacts of intimate partner violence
  • the DHB policy (procedures and protocols), including support and referral
  • managing confidentiality and documentation
  • using routine enquiry questions and offering intimate partner violence interventions.

Supervision

Clinical supervision is a vital component of the Violence Intervention Programme to ensure staff and patient safety is optimal.

Clinical supervision must be easily accessible for staff within their clinical setting and should incorporate 3 components.

  1. Maintenance of professional standards.
  2. Development of the practitioner through self-reflective learning in a supportive environment and expansion of practitioner awareness.
  3. Support of the practitioner (Bond and Holland 1994).

Supervision should be offered after any disclosure of abuse to ensure the staff's learning and support can be maximised.

Confidentiality must be maintained, except where patient or staff safety is at risk.


VIP training

1. Principles of training

Collaboration is key to Violence Intervention Programme – engage community agencies on the teaching team, for their expertise and so staff can be directly informed of the agency’s role (Fanslow et al 1998).

Training ensures that all staff have the necessary knowledge and skills to integrate the Violence Intervention Programme in their practice.

Training should take place once all policies, documentation, staff support processes, referral pathways and resources are available and prior to launching routine enquiry in any service.

Training needs to be endorsed by management, and it needs to be mandatory to be effective.

Training works best when provided across a whole health service.

Training should be in a dedicated time, lasting for between 4 and 16 hours (Campbell et al 2001; Fanslow et al 1998).

2. Strategic approach to training

A DHB VIP training plan that includes introduction, core, refresher, advanced and peer support training:

A brief one-hour introduction to intimate partner violence and child abuse and neglect that covers prevalence, impact, the rationale for routine enquiry and barriers and enablers for change. This introduction session is valuable because it:

  • introduces the concept of intimate partner violence and child abuse and neglect intervention and enables staff to have time to consider its relevance to their practice prior to training

  • introduces intimate partner violence and child abuse and neglect as a legitimate health issue

  • recognises that, given the prevalence, there will be staff that have personal experience of intimate partner violence and child abuse and neglect. The delivery of the session and the timing offers staff time to seek any support required before attending the full training day. This reflects the DHB commitment to safe practice.

Ideally this introduction would occur at least a month before the full training day.

The full Violence Intervention Programme training day should discuss:

  • the epidemiology of intimate partner violence and child abuse and neglect and the effects on all persons experiencing the abuse
  • theories and dynamics of intimate partner violence and child abuse and neglect
  • why and how to routinely enquire for intimate partner violence and what to do if the person discloses abuse
  • strangulation identification, assessment, management and response
  • child abuse and neglect identification, assessment and referral including principles and practice
  • the role of community agencies for intimate partner violence, child abuse and neglect
  • needs and responsibilities to Māori incorporating the 12 kaupapa identified in the Family Violence Assessment and Intervention Guideline - Child abuse and intimate partner violence 2016 (FVAIG 2016)
  • professional dangerousness with regard to intimate partner violence and child abuse and neglect intervention; responses that can lead to unsafe practice
  • resources available to support VIP
  • focusing on the 6 step intervention model:
    • Identify (Routine Enquiry)
    • Acknowledge the disclosure (Validation and support)
    • Assess health and risk
    • Discuss safety
    • Refer and follow up
    • Document.

Role-play abuse identification and intervention, using scenarios applicable to attendees clinical practice (eg, specific service/department/unit focus).

Annual refresher training may be required to update staff and ensure practice standards are maintained. Refresher training can be tailored to the needs of the service/department/unit, or it can take the form of a generic presentation, depending on demand and staff members’ levels of confidence with Violence Intervention Programme.

In-service training is delivered as short targeted service updates for small groups/ individual staff members. The content of the in-service training package is specific to the service it is being presented to. It should be developed to address areas of the programme where improvement potential has been identified from ward/service area audit results. Additionally it may include programme updates that need to be communicated to staff.

Advanced training may be required for some staff in each service who can act as mentors, or to develop internal champions to advocate the programme among colleagues.

While training can be generic, grouping attendees by seniority, speciality, profession and designation may help target the training to an appropriate level of clinical practice.

3. Training evaluations

Evaluations of the sessions using a pre- and post-teaching design offer an opportunity to assess understanding before training and demonstrate training effectiveness.

A VIP Quality Improvement resource kit that includes pre- and post- training evaluation is available.

Please contact National VIP Manager for DHBs for further information.

4. Maximising training

Training alone is not enough; ongoing support, including one-to-one support for staff, is required to achieve and sustain change.

Management mandating training for staff is a key success factor. This is a visible demonstration of management’s commitment to the programme and demonstrates management has prioritised the programme.

5. Violence Intervention Trainers

Violence Intervention Programme trainers
Resource Focus Contact
SHINE
Safer Homes in New Zealand Everyday
Contract by the Ministry of Health for health-specific training; training for professionals and the community; DV-free workplace support; education programmes for schools; refuge services, crisis advocacy, a 24 hour helpline; perpetrator programmes Email: enquiries@2shine.org.nz
Phone: (09) 815 4601

Quality improvement and evaluation

Evidence for the intervention

What outcomes can you expect from introducing a violence intervention programme? How do you know you are making a difference?

  • Customer satisfaction rates will increase, and victims will give positive feedback about the health professional offering family violence intervention.
  • Rates of routine enquiry and victim identification will increase across services.
  • Rates of referrals from health services to community agencies will increase.
  • The DHB’s score on the Ministry of Health Audit of DHB responsiveness to family violence will improve.

Longer-term outcomes may include:

  • decreased utilisation of health services by victims of family violence
  • reduced long-term rates of family violence
  • children growing up in safer families
  • breaking the cycle of violence.

How can the quality of family violence intervention be measured and maintained?

To ensure the quality and safety of the intervention supervision/peer support should be provided for health professionals when they first begin family violence intervention (after a disclosure of abuse). This allows staff to:

  • assess their standard of practice during self-reflective learning
  • receive the necessary emotional and professional support regarding practice.

Pre- and post-teaching evaluations can assess how much staff understand about family violence intervention before and after the training session. This helps the training coordinator assess where additional support is necessary to ensure quality intervention is offered.

Audits should be conducted regularly to assess:

  • the staff’s knowledge and understanding of family violence intervention policies
  • intimate partner violence routine enquiry rates, adherence to policy/procedures and standards of documentation.

Staff should be surveyed regularly to assess the barriers that need to be addressed and to identify potential opportunities for family violence interventions within their practice.

Quarterly feedback from the community agencies who receive referrals from the DHB is an effective way of monitoring that the quality and quantity of referrals has increased since inception of a family violence intervention programme.

Quality improvement activities such as conducting PDSA cycles can identify and measure specific and targeted programme performance (eg, identification by PDSA regarding aspects of the programme performing well in one area may be replicated, implemented and subsequently measured by utilising a PDSA cycle in another area).


Evaluation and audit

Evaluation and monitoring are pivotal aspects of the implementation of a programme, when the intention is to achieve and sustain change (Campbell et al 2001; Grimshaw et al 1999).

Evaluations should have practical value or be useful to the target audience, for example the coordinator of the family violence intervention programme and or steering group.

Evaluations and audit can be useful for many reasons including:

  • evaluations can influence decision-making regarding programme implementation, for example indicating need for refresher training or increased resources
  • evaluations can provide updates on implementation progress in accordance with performance indicators that are supplied to senior management
  • evaluations provide an opportunity for stakeholders to feed into the change process. For example, asking staff about the barriers and enablers to routine enquiry and the strategies to address these issues or asking community agencies to report on the quality and quantity of referrals received
  • clinical audits and evaluation processes can support change of staff attitude and organisational culture when provided as feedback. Staff are informed and learn about how the family violence intervention programme is being implemented, the impact on practice and the outcomes
  • evaluation provides useful information to the staff and conveys a message of collaboration
  • evaluation and audit offers a process that engages staff in the process
  • well defined evaluation processes ensure a 360-degree feedback loop is in place.

A simple audit tool can be used to record audit results. If you would like further information or assistance regarding development of audit tools and resources please contact the National VIP Manager for DHBs vipmanager@ymail.com.

Audit templates

Terms of reference for a clinical audit can provide a guideline for audit implementation.

Contact the National VIP Manager for more information.

Evaluation reports

Go to Reports on Violence Intervention Programmes (VIP) in district health boards.

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