IRISi has recently launched its “Introduction to the IRIS programme for GPs and Primary Care Networks” guide. Click here to see it!
Calls to the national domestic abuse helpline in England have increased by 61% over the past year, according to Refuge, the charity behind the service. Reflecting on a year since the start of the country’s first national lockdown, Refuge revealed 72% of those the helpline team supported were women experiencing violence and abuse, and the most common age bracket was 30-39.
At the same time, according to the Department of Health, 80% of women in a violent relationship seek help from health services and these are often a woman’s first, or only, point of contact. It means that, if you are a clinician, it’s possible that you will be the first or only professional who may have the chance to identify the signs of Domestic Violence and Abuse among your female patients.
“The IRIS programme was developed over a decade ago in response to this reality, so we can provide training, support and referral pathways for general practice teams and their patients across the UK. It is very important that healthcare professionals are fully prepared to recognise and respond to the symptoms of Domestic Violence and Abuse during consultations, especially because this social disease can produce signs that are hard to see at a first sight”, explains Medina Johnson, CEO at IRISi, the social enterprise behind the IRIS programme and other similar initiatives.
While many GPs may be aware of physical abuse, there are several different types of domestic violence and abuse (DVA) – such as psychological, emotional, financial, among many others – frequently associated with invisible wounds. That’s why the IRIS Programme is so relevant. “This programme offers, to clinicians, a simple referral pathway so that their patients can get specialist support. IRIS improves the General Practice response to DVA and essentially improves the safety, quality of life and wellbeing of survivors of DVA”, reinforces Medina Johnson, CEO at IRISi.
IRISi has recently developed an “Introduction to the IRIS programme for GPs and Primary Care Networks” guide to reach these professionals and explain why and how the IRIS programme may help them. Click here to see it in full.
Here are 3 information you will also find in the document!
1) What exactly is IRIS?
IRIS is a specialist domestic violence and abuse (DVA) training, support and referral programme for general practices that has been positively evaluated in a randomised controlled trial. It is a partnership between health and the specialist DVA sector.
IRIS provides in-house DVA training for general practice teams and a named advocate to whom patients can be referred for support. Between 2010 and March 2020, IRIS programmes have received 20,544 referrals and fully trained an estimated 1036 general practices across 48 localities nationwide.
IRIS programmes are exclusively managed and coordinated by IRISi, a social enterprise working to promote and improve healthcare response to gender based violence.
2) How does IRIS work?
The model rests on one full-time advocate educator working with a patient population of up to 200,000 (usually around 25 practices). The Advocate Educator is a specialist DVA worker who is linked to the practices and based in a local specialist DVA service.
The advocate educator works in partnership with a local Clinical Lead to engage with practices and co-deliver training. As well as providing training, the advocate educator acts as an ongoing consultant for practice teams and is the person to whom they directly refer patients for expert advocacy.
Practices also receive in house training for the whole practice team, a named contact for patient referrals, and ongoing support and consultancy.
3) How to support IRIS implementation in your area
We know that general practice teams see the need for health based DVA work first-hand and want to provide the best service for their patients. If you would like to see the IRIS programme running in your area, please get in touch with us. You can help us to implement the programme locally by:
- Getting in touch with your practice PCN/Cluster lead or PCN/Cluster Clinical Director/Lead;
- Contacting the named GP for safeguarding in your CCG/Health Board;
- Sharing details of the IRIS programme with your local specialist domestic abuse service.
The IRIS programme is designed to be implemented across a number of practices. Usually, we recommend commissioning IRIS across no fewer than 12 practices. IRIS may be commissioned across a group of PCNs in an area, a number of practices in an area or a whole local authority/CCG area depending on local arrangements. We are always keen to support any interest in the IRIS programme and can participate in meetings or events to outline the IRIS programme’s benefits.
IRIS is usually funded and rolled out following conversations with commissioners such as the CCG (Clinical Commissioning Groups, in England), Health Boards (in Wales), the PCC (Police and Crime Commissioner) or the local authority (usually either through Public Health or the Community Safety team). Specialist DVA organisations can also apply to become IRIS partners, which means that they are then supported by IRISi to seek funding for implementation in their area.
For further information and support please get in touch with us via firstname.lastname@example.org.