Independence is a key aspect of the ISVA service’s role in being able to provide impartial information to their clients. The ISVA service should retain and promote its independence from all criminal justice system agencies, so clients are free to make their own choices about making a police report.
Due to the complex nature of the support provided by ISVA services, it is important that there are clear policies and procedures to underpin the delivery of the service. For providers who also deliver other services, it is important that distinct operational procedures are put in place specifically for the ISVA service.
Effective strategic partnerships encourage appropriate referrals into and out of the ISVA service, and support information sharing arrangements that inform risk and needs assessment, and ensure a seamless response for clients.
Due to the complexity of managing an ISVA service, it is essential that ISVA manager training is completed to ensure staff have the appropriate knowledge and skills to supervise and support caseloads. ISVA service managers need a thorough understanding of the support provided by an ISVA, the importance of professional boundaries and be able to manage capacity and demand. Forming good relationships with partner agencies and commissioners is key.
All staff providing ISVA support to clients should complete a full, accredited ISVA training course to ensure they can support their clients safely and effectively. Access to continuous professional development ensures ISVAs can effectively support their clients with specific needs and that ISVAs remain current and confident in their role.
ISVAs require a formal process of professional support and learning which enables them to develop knowledge and competence, enhance client safety and promote self-care. Clinical supervision should be impartial, independent of line management and provided by someone who understands the ISVA role.
It is an important principle that ISVA services offer equitable access to their clients regardless of whether they have reported their abuse to the police, when the abuse took place, or the type of abuse experienced. The support provided by the ISVA services should be led by individual client risk and needs assessments
Providing a range of referral routes into ISVA services promotes equitable access to all potential ISVA clients. Self-referrals should be encouraged and supported wherever possible to allow clients to access the service when they choose and without the involvement of others. There is a general lack of awareness about ISVA services, therefore, providers should work in partnership with other local services to raise awareness of the support available. Services should routinely monitor referral data to identify whether further engagement is required to encourage specific groups to access the ISVA service.
Following a referral to the ISVA service, initial contact should be made with the client as quickly as possible and within 5 working days of receiving the referral. This is important to ensure that the client is aware that the referral has been accepted and that support will be provided to them by the ISVA service. It is important that the ISVA service has a process for managing referrals where the client is not contactable on the initial contact.
The agreement put in place between the ISVA service and the client will ensure there is clarity about confidentiality, when the sharing of information will take place and in what circumstances, and provide a mechanism for the ISVA service to ensure the client has fully understood the arrangements and consents to working with the service. The agreement ensures the client understands the purpose of the service and helps to manage their expectations.
Some clients may require additional help to fully engage with ISVA support, from safe family members, other adults, or relevant professionals. These clients may include children and young people, adults with disabilities, those with significant mental health needs, as well as other vulnerabilities. Engagement with third parties should be driven by the client’s needs, and with their consent. Setting clear and consistent boundaries when engaging with third parties supporting the client enables all parties to understand the role of the ISVA and the service being offered to the client.
ISVA services should aim to build a culture of safety that supports clients and staff by ensuring that the assessment of risk and needs an integral aspect of service provision. Recognising the dynamic nature of an individual’s risk and needs, ISVAs should assess risk and need continuously and update and adjust support plans accordingly.
The development of individual support plans should be client led and based on the individual risk and needs of the client. The client should be empowered to take a lead role in developing their plan and indicate the sort of support that they would prefer. Support plans should be regularly reviewed and updated in response to any change in the individual’s risk and needs.
It is vital that support provided by the ISVA service is flexible and frequent enough to identify, monitor and manage the risk and needs of the client and to enable routine reviews. Support may be provided through a range of mediums; however, it should be led by the risks and needs of the individual client and based on a discussion with the client to understand their preference and requirements. Effective case management is important as the risks and needs of each client will often fluctuate, meaning the ability of the ISVA to successfully manage their caseloads is paramount.
A key function of an ISVA service is to enable clients to access services depending on their individual risks and needs. ISVA services should identify local and national organisations available to provide appropriate support across all areas of risk and needs experienced by clients. ISVA services should be able to facilitate their clients’ access to these services through formal referral pathways.
Robust records management is essential in the safe and effective delivery of ISVA services. Clients should be assured of the secure nature of records storage and processing, time-scales for retention and their explicit consent recorded in accordance with data protection legislation for any disclosure or sharing of information.
The ISVA service should be committed to safeguarding and promoting the welfare of children and adults at risk. The service should have up to date policies and ensure that training is in place to ensure all staff are competent in their responsibilities around the safeguarding of children and adults at risk. The ISVA service should be aware of local processes to ensure referral of concerns to local Children’s Services or Adult Services.
It is an important principle that ISVA service support is not provided indefinitely and should be led by the individual risk and needs of each client. Exit strategies should be put in place, at an early stage, to enable a timely, safe and appropriate end to ISVA service support. Both clinical and management supervision provide opportunities to monitor and review the support provision and when to appropriately end support.
ISVA services should encourage all clients to provide feedback about the support they have or are receiving. A range of options should be available to routinely encourage feedback throughout support, as well as from those who choose not to process. This could include providing open mechanisms for feedback anonymously via service websites.
An ISVA service core data set should be designed to enable the service to identify that they are achieving equitable access and engagement from clients across a range of protected characteristics. The core data set should also include sufficient outcome measures to determine whether the ISVA service is having a positive impact for their clients.
Monitoring and reviewing data and feedback from clients will ensure ISVA services are able to spot any problems and change, improve and develop new ways of working accordingly. Reviews should occur at both operational and strategic levels and may establish where there is an increase or decrease in demand or where further engagement is required to ensure equitable access.