Adverse Childhood Experiences: Knowledge is Power

The ACE Support Hub @acehubwales has blogged for us ahead of our ACEs: Small Steps, Big Change webinar on June 12th 2018.

Wales has big ambitions to become a world leader in tackling, mitigating and preventing Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs). To achieve this, we must all be aware of ACEs, what they mean for us as individuals and everyone around us, and understanding our unique role in tackling them, both in our professional and personal lives.

The Resilience film tells us: “Once you give people the information, they will find creative solutions,” and we’ve already seen this start to happen in the way that some organisations in Wales have responded to learning about ACEs, changing ways of working to become ACE informed. For example, focusing on relationships, and people, not process.

The ACE Support Hub has co-produced a Skills and Knowledge Framework that will help all of us in Wales to understand our part in tackling and preventing ACEs. It will help us to challenge ourselves to think, “What can I do differently?”, and recognise what we’re already doing. The framework relates to everyone, not just frontline workers and practitioners supporting people affected by trauma, to recognise that the impact of ACEs is widespread and affects people at all ages, across all walks of life.

The Framework isn’t yet finalised, and The ACE Support Hub has collated feedback through engagement sessions with professionals across Wales. The feedback has been varied; with some thinking it’s great, and others who are familiar with the concepts. The Hub is now looking to combine it within existing frameworks.

We know that just having training alone doesn’t mean that change will happen. The ACE Skills and Knowledge Framework will underpin activity by describing the knowledge and skills required by individuals, and their organisations, to create the environment for change.

So, what does it mean to be ACE-informed?

ACE-informed individuals build relationships with people, looking beyond symptoms and behaviours and demonstrate kindness, compassion and understanding. They recognise indicators of ACEs throughout the life course, knowing that it’s about “What’s happened to you?” rather than the “What’s ‘wrong’ with you?” They understand that behaviour is communication, we need to take time understand this rather than blaming them for their behaviour. They appropriately support, signpost or safeguard. They use a psychologically informed approach when supporting people; they explore what is important to that person and what support would help them build on their strengths, skills and resources.

ACE-skilled people are reflective practitioners and demonstrate their own role in tackling ACEs. They identify and access as necessary their own support mechanisms and contribute to continuous improvement in relation to their own practice.

The draft ACE Skills and Knowledge Framework sets out the knowledge and skills for three levels of the workforce.

  • The ‘ACE-Informed’ level describes universal knowledge and skills which underpins everything else. ACE-Informed people understand what ACEs are and know the impact they have throughout life. They understand how to communicate effectively and know when they need to seek advice and support.
  • The ‘ACE-Skilled’ level described applied knowledge and skills. ACE-Skilled people are ACE-Informed and have more detailed and comprehensive knowledge and skills around understanding the impact of ACEs. They can critically appraise issues and use skills and knowledge to support people.
  • The ‘Influencers’ level describes principles for developing and sustaining organisational culture and systemic support that enables informed and skilled people to flourish and give their best. ACE-Influencers are people with a leadership and/or a strategic role. They are ACE-Informed, enable others to become ACE-Informed and ACE-Skilled and ensure appropriate workforce support is available and accessed. They ensure an ACE-informed approach to managing services and teams. Most importantly, they set the culture that acknowledges ACEs as a common, systemic issue requiring a quality response.

SK Framework V1a

The ACE Support Hub is looking for opportunities to pilot the Framework within organisations in Wales. Please contact Kelly McFadyen if you are interested in being involved in this work.

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