Impact: CAMHS Competency Frameworks
The Children and Young People (CYP) Mental Health Inpatient Competence Framework outlines the core competencies required for all staff working in children and young people’s mental health inpatient services (CAMHS). It provides a standardised, evidence-based and compassionate approach to support staff to provide high-quality care for children and young people and their families. The NHS England & Improvement Quality Taskforce and Health Education England (HEE) asked BIHR to provide an expert review of the competences relating to human rights.
After reading the first draft of the framework, we offered recommendations on the legal accuracy and further embedding the practicalities of human rights law into the framework. We highlighted the importance of the centring human rights throughout all aspects of mental health care for children and young people and focused on the UK domestic human rights law - the Human Rights Act 1998.
Following our review...
Human rights are now referred to in the first section of the competency framework, as central to the attitude, values and style of interaction that staff should take when working with children and young people. The inclusion is essential as services that centre a human rights-based approach are not only are abiding by UK law but work better for both the young people who are accessing (or trying to access) services and the staff delivering services.
Human rights legal duties are now explicitly referred to in the knowledge section of the new competency framework. Often in our work with staff across public bodies, the first time they hear about these legal duties is when they attend our human rights training session. It is vital that it is clear to all staff that they have a legal duty to act compatibility with human rights, and apply all other laws, policy and guidance, in a way that respects human rights (as far as possible).
The Human Rights Act legal framework of absolute and non-absolute human rights is now also directly referred to in the knowledge section. It is important that human rights are not just part of abstract policy. Staff must know how they apply to their roles every day. In order for staff to be able to make human rights based decisions, they must understand the difference between absolute and non-absolute rights, and the three-stage test that must be used when restricting non-absolute rights.
We were really pleased to be asked to provide and expert review of the human rights section of this framework, as human rights should be the foundation of all the work that mental health services, and all public services, do every day.
Human rights in now referred to as a central competence for all staff working in CAMHS. This competency framework is also useful for children and young people (and their loved ones) as it sets out the legal right to have their human rights respected and protected when they are accessing mental health services.
The inclusion of human rights as a key competence is a welcome and important step towards creating a culture of respect for human rights. However, this is only one part of the picture; there must be a continued focus on the implementation of human rights law in public services, in all frameworks, polices and everyday practice.
We continued our work on putting human rights into practice through our programmes with CAMHS staff, which were co-designed and co-delivered with lived experience experts.
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