A new programme to help health practitioners identify victims of domestic abuse and intervene to provide them with the appropriate support has been launched in the Cwm Taf area of South Wales.
Identification and Referral to Improve Safety (IRIS) is a general practice-based domestic abuse and sexual violence training and referral programme. It has been launched in Cwm Taf following the success of a pilot in Cardiff and the Vale of Glamorgan.
IRIS is the first of its kind in Wales and was launched by the Police and Crime Commissioner together with Cardiff and Vale University Health Board in November 2014.
25 surgeries in Cardiff and the Vale of Glamorgan were initially selected to take advantage of this approach, with all surgeries signed up for training. To date, the first phase of training has been delivered to 22 surgeries reaching over 280 staff including 93 GPs. Two part-time advocate educators, funded by the Police and Crime Commissioner for South Wales, work across the 25 practices in Cardiff and the Vale of Glamorgan.
The advocate educators are specialist domestic violence and abuse workers who are linked to the practices and based in BAWSO and Cardiff Women’s Aid. The advocate educator provides training to practice teams and acts as an ongoing consultant, as well as being the person to whom they directly refer patients for expert advocacy.
In Cardiff and the Vale of Glamorgan 70 referrals have been made since the introduction of the IRIS programme, giving 70 victims of domestic abuse the opportunity to access information and support they may otherwise have missed out on.
Launching the new programme in Cwm Taf, Minister for Health & Social Services, Mark Drakeford, said:
“Our Primary care services are uniquely placed to identify and support victims of domestic violence and abuse. This is where the vast majority of people receive their care and where tens of thousands of contacts with health and social care professionals take place every day.
“The IRIS work clearly demonstrates an approach that helps to connect vulnerable individuals to the right services and support as quickly as possible.
“The launch of this training and referral programme has only been made possible by the joint efforts of multiple agencies. This is a fine example of integrated working with South Wales Police, Cwm Taf local health board and partner agencies all coming together to take forward a really important development.”
South Wales’ Deputy Police and Crime Commissioner, Sophie Howe, said:
“The Police and Crime Commissioner and South Wales Police are committed to tackling violence against women and girls in south Wales, and our plan to achieve this focuses on improving identification and intervention; ensuring a victim centred approach and; encouraging prevention.
“Working with health has consistently been identified as key to achieving early identification of victims, and therefore we are delighted that Cwm Taf Health Board and partner agencies support the roll out of the Identification and Referral to Improve Safety (IRIS) programme to GP surgeries in the area.”
Identifying domestic abuse at an early stage not only improves outcomes for victims but can also have a positive impact on families and children. Dr Chris Jones, Chair of Cwm Taf University Health Board, said:
“This is a serious attempt not only to support victims but to change the course of the lives of children going forward.”
Minister for Health & Social Services, Mark Drakeford, Deputy Police and Crime Commissioner, Sophie Howe, and Chair Cwm Taf Health Board, Chris Jones, spoke at the launch event in Mountain Ash on Friday 27 November 2015. Partners attending included Women’s Aid RCT and Safer Merthyr Tydfil.