The Resilient Families platform was a project started in Bolton in 2014. It came about following a successful grant bid by the commissioning team to NHS England. The funding award was, in part, for a dedicated platform for family use and aimed to ensure engagement of and support to families through their loved ones’ journey with drugs/alcohol use.
- Extend treatment service capacity and capability to support families in order to increase the likelihood of recovery from substance misuse
- Deliver three way connectivity between the family, service user and practitioner
With this in mind the platform was built and trialled within the substance misuse services in Bolton.
The most exciting feature is a suite of dashboards and tools accessible to a family member, a service user and a practitioner. With permissions, it allows for real time interaction between the three groups to gain support as well as reviewing progress.
Another features of the platform, accessed through the dashboard, is the ability to directly and securely send messages between the individuals engaging with the platform; for example, family member to service user, service user to family member, practitioner to family member and/or service user and service user to practitioner.
Family members generally don’t put their own needs first but will ‘search’ ways in which to help their loved one; however they may be in need of support themselves. To ensure engagement with the most appropriate support, this platform provides easier access to online self-help at a time which suits them.
- By using the shared calendar function, individuals can plan future events, share these with each other and invite them if appropriate. With permissions, a family member can also view a service users key events and appointments, encouraging active involvement in their treatment journey.
- Everyone using the platform can set goals; these are easily shared and progress against them readily updated
- The family also has the ability to share important contact details, for example those of a support agency. This ensures that the contact details of the support network for the whole family are easily available to all.
A key feature of the online self-help integrated within the platform is the ‘5-Step Family Model’.
The 5-step family model, devised by University professors, Alex Copello and Richard Velleman, was written to enable drug and alcohol treatment services to help families deal with the ‘highly stressful experience of living with addition in the family’.
Alex Copello worked with d2 to ‘digitalise’ the model’s content. This work was done as part of the successful grant funded programme to build Resilient Families. The content was re-written to make it suitable for remote use with practitioner oversight, rather than it being delivered in a face to face session. d2 worked with Alex to put appropriate images to the modules to guide the user through the programme. Case studies were also created as ‘reference points’ for the family members to assist them to capture their feelings and concerns.
Each session of the 5-step model is reviewed by a practitioner. With support and tips being provided to the family, the practitioner is able to provide encouragement to continue through the programme.