The Department of Health funded a two year programme of Teenage Health Demonstration Sites from November 2006. The programme aimed to demonstrate how to enhance services in order to improve the emotional and physical outcomes for young people. The intention was to gain information to advise national policy and support local service planning.
About the Teenage Health Demonstration Sites
The Demonstration Sites were introduced through the Youth Matters Green Paper. Healthy lives, Brighter Futures – The strategy for children and young people‟s health includes a commitment to disseminate the learning from the programme.
The objectives of the programme were to:
Each site drew up a two-year plan detailing how they would meet the programmes aims and objectives. These objectives included supporting specific pieces of work directed at young people in their locality including the implementation of the You're Welcome quality criteria and the participation of schools in the National Healthy Schools Programme. Ensuring access to the most marginalised young people was also a key aim.
The four sites were selected because they displayed one or more of a range of features. These included:
The sites were:
Evaluation of the Teenage Health Demonstration Sites
Summary of Key Learning
To successfully implement enhanced youth health services
Allow sufficient time for planning and early development – this will allow services to be built on a firm foundation. Time is necessary to ensure that: a high quality needs assessment is carried out: premises and workforce requirements are addressed; service monitoring and governance systems are in place; and links between local agencies are forged
Place young people at the centre of service development – this will ensure that services are truly appropriate. Participation work should be inclusive of young people with a range of diverse experiences and should be organized to ensure sustainability. Supporting participation is intensive, skilled work and requires a dedicated budget and specialist workers
Establish strong leadership in conjunction with an inclusive, bottom up approach to management – this will keep the work on track and ensure a high profile at multi-agency strategic level. A core management group of senior leaders is important for steering the programme and securing engagement from senior managers in multiple partner agencies and from staff providing services.
Develop a mixed programme of services – this will offer the flexibility to ensure maximum acceptability and accessibility. This should include universal and targeted services in both health and non-health settings. Take services to the places young people already go to. Build on existing services, particularly in terms of reaching the most vulnerable and ensure consistency of provision.
Establish a skilled multi-disciplinary core team – this will ensure quality delivery and help raise standards in other services. Specialist nurses, doctors with an interest in adolescence, mental health, youth workers and dedicated participation workers are central to these teams. Expertise in working with young people is the most essential criterion for staff regardless of their professional background.
Work with creativity and persistence to reach vulnerable groups – this will help access for marginalised young people and promote equality. It is key to support staff expertise in this work.
The evaluation of the THDS programme was carried out by a team at the Social Science Research Unit, Institute of Education, University of London.