The St Aubyn Centre is a Tier 4 service. Young people are admitted from all over the country, potentially separating them from their family and friends for many weeks. An ongoing problem for staff, common to many mental health in-patient services, has been managing access to mobile phones and the internet. There are additional concerns with young people around internet grooming, exploitation and inappropriate usage. This made staff fearful of being blamed for allowing such access and potentially placing a young person in a vulnerable position whilst in their care. This resulted in young people not having access to phones and the internet. Following their involvement in BIHR’s Delivering Compassionate Care project, St Aubyn applied a human rights approach and individualised care planning and have made the following changes:

  • Mobile phones: previously the service policy banned young people’s use of mobile phones due to safety concerns (both harm to the young person or them using the phones for harm). The policy was reviewed and now all young people have access to their mobile phones, with safety concerns being managed on an individual basis, giving more responsibility to the young person. This has improved young people’s ability to maintain contact with their family and friends and provided staff with a framework for managing access issue.
  • Internet access: this had also been restricted due to safety concerns. The service drafted a new policy, allowing young people access to the internet, with safety concerns being addressed by staff on an individual basis. The aim is to further improve young people’s contact with their family and friends, and gives staff a clear framework to respect rights and uphold their duties to protect against harm

Example from BIHR's project Delivering Compassionate Care: Connecting Human Rights to the Frontline