Assistant Psychologist / Fieldworker - Children's social care (west London and surrounds)

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miriam
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Assistant Psychologist / Fieldworker - Children's social care (west London and surrounds)

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About the position

We have a vacancy for an Assistant Psychologist / Fieldworker to support our work in the Transforming Children's Social Care (BERRI) project, funded within a successful Innovate UK Smart Grant where we are developing tools to help identify and track the psychological needs of children who have experienced adversity (see www.BERRI.org.uk). The post is initially for a fixed term of 12 months, but may be extended if further funding is secured.

This post will cover a geographic patch that includes west London, but may well also include other boroughs in north or south London, along with parts of Buckinghamshire. Whilst some of the work can be done from home, there is an expectations that some site visits to local authorities and/or placement providers will be required, particularly as lockdown restrictions are eased. This is likely to require both car travel and use of public transport (for which travel expenses to locations other than the primary allocated base will be reimbursed), so a full clean driving license and access to a vehicle is essential.

Note: As a member of the essential health and social care workforce, the postholder would be eligible for an early covid vaccination under the governments current guidance to prioritise vaccine roll-out. Sites should also have adopted suitable practices to reduce the risk of viral transmission, with masks, handwashing, social distancing and adaptations to adaptations to minimise risk of contagion.

BERRI
BERRI is an innovative digital tool set designed to identify the needs of individual children, in terms of their behaviour, emotional-wellbeing, mental health, development, risk to self/others, and ability to form relationships. BERRI can be used to gain a more holistic picture of children’s needs, to track how this changes over time and to target particular concerns and monitor the effectiveness of interventions to address them. The over-arching goal is to further develop the BERRI tools and complete the norm groups to which the BERRI program refers when generating reports, by gathering data from a wider sample of children known to local authorities. This data will be analysed by the research team to develop a more robust BERRI tool with wider applications to support the psychological health and wellbeing of children and their families/carers.

Overview of the post

The post is a field work position which will focus on gathering data from local authorities about children using the BERRI tools. During the data collection phase, BERRI data will be collected from a minimum of one thousand children across a minimum of three local authorities. This will span children who are Looked After in foster care and residential care, as well as (where possible) children known to the authority as having SEND, being in need, on the edge of care, or as care leavers. Your primary task will be to ensure that social workers and placements complete the BERRI about each child involved in the study - creating the child records, helping the staff to sign up for and use the computer system, and gathering the additional commissioning data about each child (eg how long they have been in Care, the cost of the placement, the number of prior placements, and whether any placements change or disrupt during the study year) at the correct time points. You will also help to feed back to service managers how the system is being used, and to compile some data insights from the data collected. You might also be involved in conducting brief telephone interviews, or literature reviews, and there may be the opportunity to contribute to conference presentations or journal articles about the project.

This is not a clinical role. The post does not involve direct contact with children or young people, or any involvement in therapeutic services. It is primarily a research fieldwork role, in which your contact will be with caregivers and professionals. However the post we are advertising is a key component of the wider project, as well as a unique opportunity to use your skills to make a genuine impact on the lives of vulnerable children and young people. Depending on capacity, it may be possible to sit in on training or consultancy sessions to see how the work contributes to the wider services we provide.

About LifePsychol

LifePsychol Ltd is a clinical psychology business dedicated to improving the lives of children and families who have experienced adversity. This post is a critical link between our research and the services we provide. We want to improve what we do by learning from our data, and to publish our findings and show that what we do works, so that more organisations subscribe and we are able to reach more children.

We have already collected a lot of data. This includes a large data set from BERRI about the needs of young people living in residential care, and we are starting to collect samples from children in foster care, and from educational settings. We want to use this data to inform the way we produce our reports, and to inform decisions about the appropriate placements and services for young people. We have also collected data about the workforce delivering services to these young people, and we have unique data about how children's presentations relate to their early experiences, recent life events and current stressors that we want to analyse and publish. We use BERRI to work with care providers; delivering training, consultancy and individual assessments and formulations, as well as advising on appropriate interventions, and we evaluate all of these activities.

You'll be part of a small team, including a consultant CP/director, an AP in a more clinical role, a customer development manager (also a psych grad), our tech lead and a part-time administrator, but you will also connect to a wider network that includes our academic partners at UCL/Anna Freud Centre, including a PhD student, an RA, a statistician and a senior research fellow.

We like to give you the opportunity to show us what you are capable of, and we see our staff as our most valuable resource. The post has line management and supervision from a qualified clinical psychologist. We have a commitment to training and development, and a good track record of past assistants gaining places on clinical training (though I suspect this is as much about who I select as the experiences we provide).

Requirements
The nature of the role means that we require a psychology graduate with GBC (at a 2:1 or better, and/or with a completed post-graduate qualification) and prefer evidence of some experience in either research, care or children's services. Assistant Psychologist posts within the company are paid £18,520-£21,000 per annum, dependent on location and past AP experience.

Apart from academic qualifications, we want you to share our mission to improve the lives of people who have experienced adversity. There are also various skills that are required to do the job. We want someone who has good interpersonal and organisational skill, along with a good general familiarity with computers and websites/apps. Ideally you will be someone who loves answering clinical questions with data, and who feels confident with basic research methodology and statistics.

We need someone who is bright and proactive enough to seek out the information they need, assertive and autonomous enough to get the job done, and reflective enough to know the boundaries to their own competence. You also need to be diligent and meticulous about collecting and writing up information. You need to be organised and proactive, able to set up meetings and communicate in a professional manner, and have a very high standard of written communication.

Fluency with computer and internet applications such as Word, Excel, PowerPoint etc is also necessary, along with a passion for research and good interpersonal skills. Because of the broad geographical patch we require a post-holder who has a driving license and access to a vehicle (or can propose suitable adaptation if they have a disability that prevents this) as well as comfort using public transport. You need to have the kind of personality and resilience required to be part of a team that makes a difference for some of the most complex children in the country.

How to apply
We are accepting applications via Indeed, here. If you want to apply for this position then please send a CV (no longer than 2 pages) and a brief covering letter/expression of interest (no more than 600 words) explaining how you are suited to the position. You must include the telephone/email contact details for two references.

Please apply as soon as possible. We expect to close applications on 14th February, but may close earlier if we have sufficient applicants of suitable calibre. We hope to interview on Friday 26th February.

Background information:
LifePsychol is a clinical psychology company that has particular expertise about children and families, particularly when it comes to attachment, parenting and recovery from adversity. Our main specialist area is around attachment, trauma and maltreatment and how this evidence base can inform the care of children who do not live in their family of origin. We therefore provide training for adoptive, foster and residential carers, as well as health, social care and legal professionals.

The company is small but growing rapidly. Our mission is to improve outcomes for children with complex needs. Our aim is to change the way that children's psychological needs are looked at in the UK (and then around the world), by identifying both mental health symptoms and needs that are outside the traditional medical model and encompass behaviour, relationships, development, risk and a broad range of indicators of wellbeing. Through identifying needs better, and tracking how they change over time we want to improve the quality of placements and services for children, starting with those who are in the Care system. We hope to achieve this ambitious goal by training carers, implementing a new set of standards for care providers, and through structured needs assessments and regular use of outcome measures (BERRI). We then hope to spread this methodology to other groups of children with complex needs, such as those at the edge of care, or in specialist educational provision, poor school attenders or those who have experienced adversity. We hope to see our system used in every local authority, placement provider, school and charity that provides children's services to inform the way that psychological needs are identified and addressed.

Why start with children who are in Care? LAC are a particularly vulnerable group of children and young people because their needs are complex and they have experienced multiple adversities that put them at greater risk of negative outcomes. Local Authorities are spending £9 billion on children's social care, including £3 billion on placements every year, but there is little evidence about what works to improve life chances and reduce risks because very little data is being collected. We want to change this, and to ensure that the systems around children are psychologically minded and informed by the latest evidence.

The training, pathway and standards we implement are about ensuring that strategies carers use are evidence-based, individualised to the background and needs of each child, evolve as the child’s needs change, and are based on a thorough psychological assessment and a multi-faceted formulation of the child’s needs. We believe that having advice from a clinical psychologist to inform the care of all Looked After Children (and other children with complex needs) will both reduce stigma and improve outcomes, whilst helping carers to feel better equipped to meet the children’s needs. We have developed a training program and care pathway as one means to implement these standards for placements.

We have also developed a set of online tools for commissioners and placement providers to use to identify and track the needs of children in their care. The tools are known by the acronym ‘BERRI’ because they explore Behaviour, Emotional well-being, Risk to self and others, Relationships and Indicators of conditions that need to be understood to care effectively for the child. We want every young person with complex needs to have a service that meets their needs in an effective and evidence-based way. We have therefore developed tools that allow us to gain a more holistic picture of children’s needs, to track how this changes over time and to target particular concerns and monitor the effectiveness of interventions to address them.

Our initial data suggests that we can help to ensure that children's psychological needs are effectively identified and addressed. Our pilots have shown we can reduce children's needs significantly within six months of using the pathway and tools we provide, and save costs to the public purse whilst we do so. Our services gain exceptional feedback from carers and professionals, but we hold ourselves to tough standards of evidence, and gather data about our effectiveness every step of the way.
Miriam

See my blog at http://clinpsyeye.wordpress.com
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