Using questionnaires as part of triage

Asking young people to complete RCADs and SDQ questionnaires ahead of assessment helps practitioners at Bromley Y understand the way a young person is presenting and assess their level of need. As a service which provides a single form of access, it can form an important part of the triage process and has been shown to work well, particularly due to the young people’s interaction with technology and the ease in which they can receive, fill out and return the forms via email to the service.

Saving time

By asking for completed questionnaires prior to assessment, the service has a good indicator of how much a young person wants to engage. This means that staff time and resources are allocated accordingly and also offers a gauge for the severity of a young person’s need, meaning they can be pushed to the top of a waiting list where necessary. Sending out questionnaires after a referral comes in aims to give all young people a similar waiting time (on average up to 4 weeks wait for first assessment) and same recorded baseline as the T1 score. Parents SDQs are sent out as standard, for when a young person does not have the capacity. 

The benefits

The practice is viewed favourably by parents, as they see it as an indication of true engagement and progress. It allows the practitioner to collect more information before the assessment and builds a relationship with the young person, bringing them into contact with the service and supporting them whilst they wait to access treatment. Most importantly it allows the service to start working collaboratively with the young person and focus both them and the practitioner on what they want to get out of accessing the service.

Barriers to practice

There can be barriers to the process such as questionnaires not being received or families being on holiday, which cause delays (the young person has 2 weeks to return the questionnaire). It can also be hard for low income families without access to a computer or unable to afford returning the questionnaires ahead of assessment. To overcome this, the service ensures that contact is made with the young person prior to sending them a questionnaire to help identify where there may be a problem returning it. This also allows service users to say if they prefer not to complete one.

Implementation

Implementing this process has changed attitudes amongst the practitioners and admin staff. They feel more knowledgable about the measures and what the scores mean, as well as being interested in discussing them with the young person as part of treatment. Young people visiting the service have also expressed interest in the scores and seeing their progress throughout treatment.

Next steps

Although response rates are fairly good, Bromley Y would like to find ways to improve them.

Many thanks to Lynsey Davies and Emily Carter for providing us with this case study.