Albinia Stanley spoke to Gemma Hatfield, Service Manager of the Black Country FDAC about the service, its upcoming launch and COVID-19.
A partnership between three local authorities in the West Midlands - Walsall, Sandwell and Dudley - the Black Country FDAC was scheduled to open in March 2020. However, like so many other things this spring, plans were disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic. With a new launch date just around the corner, we spoke to Gemma Hatfield, the Service Manager of the new team, about her experiences so far.
AS: When is the FDAC launching?
We are due to launch on Monday 28th September 2020
AS: Your launch date was held up by coronavirus, what have you and the team learnt from a summer working remotely in pre-proceedings and advising social workers?
GH: I am sure everyone can relate to the challenges of having to adapt to a virtual working environment however I feel it has strengthened us as a team. We have worked together to overcome the various issues of working across THREE Local Authority areas that use different online platforms, and we have also learnt had to learn an array of new technical skills and innovative ways of building relationships.
Being a new team means that relationship building, not only between ourselves but also with other agencies, is essential. Not being able to have face to face contact with others led to us develop a virtual Black Country FDAC ‘Meet & Greet’ presentation. We have been linking in to as many social care and court teams as possible, sharing who we are and ensuring Local Authorities can ‘put a face to the name of FDAC’. Delivering in these small team settings has been a real stepping stone in helping the FDAC conversations to start changing the mind-set of care proceedings.
We have also been expanding and developing our intervention skills through virtual peer support workshops, video call sessions, parenting ZOOM sessions, use of PPE on home visits and implementing new fingerprint drug testing.
AS: You have come to FDAC as a specialist in Substance Misuse, what is different about working in a multidisciplinary FDAC team?
The biggest difference is having other specialists on hand, so instead of having to wait for return calls and emails I can simply ask and sound out ideas from different perspectives. It is also wonderful to be given the time to have formulation meetings and to come together as a team with the family to find creative solutions to support their needs. You get to see the wider picture, form a more in depth view of the parent’s life, and the family get a consistent approach to working with them and the stability of not being moved from team to team or worker to worker.
It is good to work within a circle of specialists that can ensure timelier support to the family, while avoiding the red tape of referral forms and further assessments. Its great how FDAC support is readily available to the family.
AS: Anything else you'd like to add?
The skill set within the team is varied and through our virtual peer workshops we have been able to learn from each other. The energy and passion for FDAC not just in our team but across all FDACs is amazing and we are really proud to have joined the FDAC community.