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Around four years ago, Dr. Kate Wilson, who worked as the GP Safeguarding Lead on the island of Jersey, approached Jersey Women’s Refuge with a proposal: working together to bring the IRIS Programme to the local practice teams so they could be trained on how to better identify and respond to cases of Domestic Violence and Abuse (DVA) among their female patients. Together with support from and in collaboration with IRISi, the organisation behind IRIS, they obtained the funding needed and officially started to deliver the Programme in March 2018. Since then, all the 13 local practices have been trained and almost 100 women referred by the local clinicians – 19 in the first year, 29 in the following year, and 48 in 2020.
To first launch the programme in the area, Jersey Women’s Refuge obtained three years of funding through Building a Safer Society (BaSS). After that, the training sessions started, as Jules, IRIS Advocate Educator, and Marine, Service Manager explain: “85% of the GPs had received their IRIS training within the first 10 months. 100% of GPs were trained by December 2019. This dropped to 90% in Spring 2020 when new GPs joined the island as the pandemic hit. The newly recruited GPs were fully trained by December 2020”.
How has the IRIS programme helped you to improve the response to domestic violence and abuse in Jersey?
Jules (AE): For me personally having worked in the outreach team prior to IRIS, I felt that my response times were more standardised i.e. within three working days and the two-way communication with the GPs is in my opinion central to the success of our work and the trust of those referring. The GPs get updates on their patients’ cases regularly and keeping the communication going is key to establishing that trust.
Marine (SM): Until IRIS came along, there had never been a GP referral to MARAC. To date, we have had 12. Training GPs in identifying DVA and establishing a single point of contact was imperative to ensure survivors of DVA would access support.
How was your experience in delivering the IRIS programme until now?
Jules (AE): It has been a rewarding challenge to be the only AE in Jersey until very recently. A second AE took part in the IRIS train the trainer course in June 2021.
Marine (SM): It has been a challenge to manage the workload and the number of referrals with only one part-time AE. I am delighted that we have now secured enough funding for the service to recruit a second AE this year.
What are the most challenging and satisfactory aspects of delivering the IRIS programme for you?
Jules (AE): The most satisfactory aspects of delivering the training were to see the number of IRIS trained practices and the percentage of trained clinicians in those practices increasing, as in by the end of the first year 12 of the 13 practices had at least 75% of their GPs trained, meaning they were considered IRIS trained. In addition, the very first GP referral to MARAC was met with great approval. The referral rate sits at 1:10 of the referrals begin discussed at MARAC with 2 out of 3 of those referred meeting the local threshold.
Marine (SM): In my role, the most challenging aspect of IRIS is undeniably having to battle to secure more funding for the programme. It means that we can only offer fixed term contracts to our staff and this can make it challenging to recruit and attract the right people. Having said this, I have found it really helpful to be given the pre-written commissioning pack by IRISi which no doubt helped us secure next year’s funding, especially once combined with our data which shows how the programme has managed to reach out to new, not known to services, DVA survivors locally and how numbers keep increasing.
The most satisfactory part of IRIS is how it is slowly being integrated into the different local policies and strategy as a key programme to achieve the set objectives. I am also really looking forward to each steering group. We invite our commissioners and get them to listen to our service users’ testimonies. This is great to ensure they understand how crucial the work of IRIS is, but it also enlightens them about other systemic issues we should be working on, like training professionals in the criminal justice systems about domestic abuse.
- Launch date: 23rd of March 2018.
- Specialist Partner organisation: Jersey Women’s Refuge.
- Practices trained: all 13 practices in Jersey have been fully trained.
- Women referred by year:
- 2018 = 19.
- 2019 = 29.
- 2020 = 48.