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A Platform to Independence

by PeakCare Qld on 4th February 2016

Home -> Articles -> 2016 -> February -> A Platform to Independence

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Children and young people in out of home care have specific requirements to enable their smooth transition from care to independence. Staff at Platform 18 are well aware of the experiences of children and young people and are cognisant that sometimes health care can be overlookedbecause young people are focused on other issues as they prepare for independence.

In responding to the plethora of needs, they have established the first Transition from Care health service in Queensland. Platform 18 is an opportunity toassist young people in addressing their health needs and managing tasks such as accessing a GP, dentist or having someone with whom they can talk through their health records.

The Queensland Child Protection Commission of Inquiry (QCPCI) and subsequent report Taking Responsibility: A Roadmap for Queensland Child Protection noted the importance of increased attention and supports for children and young people with a care or former care experience. It recommended the establishment of “a coordinated program of post-care support for young people until at least the age of 21, including priority access to government services in the areas of education, health, disability services, housing and employment services, and work with nongovernment organisations to ensure the program’s delivery”(Recommendation 9.1). In keeping with this recommendation, the Child Protection Forensic Medical Service (CPFMS) recognised an opportunity to improve responses to the needs of children and young people transitioning from care to independence. The Lady Cilento Children’s Hospital has come on board with CPFMS in providing coordinated care as a priority for young people exiting the care system.

The CPFMS is part of Children’s Health Queensland (CHQ) and provides a single point of contact for child protection. Based at the Lady Cilento Children’s Hospital (LCCH), the service is comprised of a multidisciplinary team including medical, nursing and allied health staff. CPFMS also manages child protection liaison staff providing child protection services at Redcliffe, Caboolture, Queen Elizabeth II and Redlands Hospitals as well as associated Community Health Centres.

CPFMS also provides a tertiary referral hospital service for the consultation and management of suspected child abuse and neglect as a part of a statewide clinical leadership role in education, training and research. This is facilitated through individual case consultation and statewide education achieved through regular professional development activities.

Platform 18 is a nursing lead model of care, with access to professional staff from the disciplines of social work and psychology plus a senior medical registrar with oversight provided by a Consultant Paediatrician. Staff are employed by CHQ LCCH and provide services both on and off site.

Platform 18 is a primary health care clinic for young people aged 15-18 years who are on any type of child protection order and are getting ready to transition from care to independence. Young people from Strathpine to Redlands and all suburbs in between including Inala, Mt Gravatt,Forest Lake and the Brisbane metropolitan area are able to self-refer or be referred to Platform 18. The clinic is located at the Lady Cilento Children’s Hospital but a stated aim is to be flexible in being able to also meet with young people in community settings.

Services offered by Platform 18 include:

  • Health screening
  • Health assessment
  • Immunisation
  • Sexual health education and referral to specialist services
  • Medication review
  • Referral to the University of Queensland Dental School
  • Coordination with primary health care and exiting providers
  • Completion of an electronic health plan for young people before exiting out of home care
  • Health service coordination as required and identified by the young person
  • Referral to partner agencies such as Next Steps.

Health assessments will be carried out by nurses and, depending on the young person’s needs, they may also see a Doctor, social worker, psychologist or oral health professional. All appointments are confidential and if the nurse needs to access health records or contact other people they will discuss this with the young person first.

Clinical nurses Laura Easterbrook and Mel Hilder and Senior Social Worker Liz Waples from CPFMS are enthusiastic about the opportunities Platform 18 offers young people transitioning from care. Every young person deserves the best possible health care but especially young people who are unable to live with, or have parents to do this with the young personsays Liz Waples.

Platform 18 represents a promising development in assisting young people who are transitioning from care to independence to access affordable and holistic health care in a positive setting by qualified professionals who understand the range of potential health and associated needs they might have. PeakCare is keen to hear more about the progress being achieved in other areas of the State in responding to Recommendation 9.1 of the Carmody Inquiry and the lessons that may be learned from Platform 18 in applying and adapting the model to suit other city, regional and remote locations.

For more information about Platform 18 please contact Laura, Mel or Liz on 3068 2660 or e-mail ChildProtectionLCCH@health.qld.gov.au