A pioneering partnership between domestic violence charity Arch and staff at the University Hospital of North Staffordshire is giving hope to victims receiving treatment at Accident and Emergency.
Hospital staff who may have previously suffered from silence are also benefiting from the work of the We Dare to Care team.
The partnership approach has led to the North Staffordshire hospital being ahead of many other hospitals as new NICE guidelines are introduced around domestic violence.
A new report from NICE (the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence) has recommended doctors and nurses should receive special training on how to recognise the signs of domestic violence.
NICE says their recommendations are a “wake up call” on the issue.
But the We Dare to Care project means that the training for hospital staff recommended by NICE is already helping patients in North Staffordshire.
The project was launched after staff at the emergency department recognised that colleagues often failed to identify the signs of domestic violence due to a lack of awareness training.
Amanda Burston, a Clinical Educator at UHNS, said: “We knew that domestic violence should be on the hospital trust’s safeguarding agenda. We wanted to make a difference and attack the problem at the front line at a vulnerable time for people suffering domestic violence.
“I approached Arch which offers support to domestic violence victims. We delivered basic awareness one hour sessions and one full day’s intense training to more than 200 members of staff.”
As a result, a direct referral service has been established between UHNS and domestic violence project officers at Arch.
Emergency department staff now have survival packs to give to anyone who discloses a domestic violence incident. As a result of these interventions, patients leave the department after treatment with hope that they can get help to secure a safer future.
Amanda said that, as a result of the awareness raising and training sessions, members of hospital staff have also told their own stories of domestic violence and have received support.
Arch, part of the Staffordshire Housing Group, offers a range of support services and accommodation for people who have experienced domestic abuse.
Wendy Wainwright, Head of Domestic Violence Services at ARCH, said: “The partnership offers major benefits in that we get to meet with victims very quickly and can offer a range of support services.
“There was nothing in place at A and E before but through training staff at the hospital can now more easily recognise potential victims and have a referral process to seek assistance.
The project has been a real success and has helped many victims, which we are very proud of. On the other hand, we are concerned as we do not know if the project will continue to be funded when the current contract ends in April. It would not make sense for it to fold just as the importance of these interventions is being recognised and encouraged on a national scale.”
Anyone concerned about domestic violence can call the Arch helpline on 01782 205500 or the national 24-hour line on 0808 2000 247.
For media enquiries please contact Sarah Pye on 01782 743883 .
Notes to editors:
Arch North Staffs is part of the Staffordshire Housing Group. Arch provides accommodation and support to people in need, including survivors of domestic violence, people in housing need and young people leaving care.