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The Family Partnership Model in practice in New South Wales: Working with families with complex needs to make a difference

Performance indicators

Features of current practice

The values and language of partnership (i.e. the approach to co-production as espoused in the FPM) are now infused in all aspects of daily practices on the Residential Unit. The approach of enabling and supporting parents to make changes, rather than staff solving problems for them, is discussed from the outset, including in the intake calls, in the welcome group, and in admission interviews. Admission processes allow staff to explore parents’ needs and understandings, and include a negotiated goal-setting process, respecting parents’ priorities. Strategy planning provides an opportunity for professional expertise to be presented, but this is done tentatively, taking into account parents’ strengths and vulnerabilities. During the week, staff guide, support and challenge parents, and at least once a day, goals and progress are reviewed, with parents given the opportunity to change the approach or focus. Discussions between clinical staff (such as handover, case conference, team debrief) have evolved so that they now have a strong focus on the relationship between staff and families and specific features of FPM. These interactions monitor the levels of support and challenge that are offered to families, and ensure consistency across relationships between the organisation and particular families.


Quantitative indicators

The table below summarises data collected from clients of the Residential Unit between February and October 2011 (n=261). These are taken from a survey completed by parents at the end of their stay, and demonstrate the accomplishment of several key dimensions of partnership between professionals and clients: joint planning, capacity -building, wider family involvement.



% strongly agree

% agree

I was involved in planning care for myself and my child



My partner was invited to participate in the admission



Staff helped me to work towards my goals during my stay



I now feel more knowledgeable about caring for my child



I now feel more confident in caring for my child




These data are reinforced by clinically validated measures of parents’ confidence (taken on admission and at discharge, consistently showing significant increases), and in discharge reviews, when parents are asked to assess progress on their goals. The Unit functions on short 5-day cycles, but addressing many parenting problems requires weeks or months. Hence the importance of using the period of residency to build confidence and capacity, beginning a journey of change that parents can continue in the home.



About this case study
Main Contact

Karen Willcocks 
Clinical Nurse Consultant at Karitane



Nick Hopwood 
University of Technology, Sydney


Nick Hopwood, Roger Dunston and Teena Clerke wrote this case study for Governance International on 26 April 2013.

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