What do we already know? our whole family evidence bank: report

Summary of evidence collated as part of the Ask the Family engagement project. The full detailed report can be found below.


The five publications reviewed for our Whole Family Evidence Bank are amongst a huge library of resources which give voice to families' views and experiences of whole family support and family inclusive practice. We simply picked five resources which were produced by or for the family engagement project partners within the past year, but many others could be added to this evidence bank.

There was strong consistency across the five publications in terms of what families told us about what mattered to them in terms of whole family support and family inclusive practice; what works for them; and what gets in the way. There was also a robust relationship between this evidence base and the output of the wider 'Ask the Family' family engagement project activities, as shown at www.sfad.org.uk/ask-the-family.

Comparing the content of our evidence base with the Draft Principles tested out in the family engagement project, we found that all of the Draft Principles were supported by our reports (Top Down), and all of families' own descriptions of family support cross-checked and aligned with the Draft Principles (Bottom Up).

This gives us confidence in the Conclusions and Recommendations of the Ask the Family report, in that families have very consistent and clear messages about what Whole Family support and Family Inclusive Practice should look and feel like for them.

What is important?
Same as Draft Principles?
What is important?
Different than Draft Principles?
  • Able to work holistically with the whole family
  • Children's rights
  • Collaborative multi-agency approaches;"Joined up thinking"
  • Driven by positive family values and a positive inclusive ethos
  • Empowering families to 'reach in' for support, not just be referred by others
  • Engaging the voice of families at every stage
  • Family rights
  • Focus on people's individuality, strengths and assets
  • Fosters hope and positivity
  • Free from stigma and judgement
  • Help and support is available to individual family members in their own right
  • Holds on until a family feels sufficiently ready to move on, "Stickability"; "Nevergivesup"
  • Be yourself; show your human side; open up about yourself
  • Choices and options (including how we are supported and by whom)
  • Connecting with others with the same experience; peer support
  • Empathy (not sympathy); understanding of the person's experience
  • Equality between family and worker (on the same level)
  • Friendship; be like a friend; relatable; use everyday language
  • Goal setting and structure; solutions- focused
  • Help and support as soon as you need it (early intervention)
  • Help to navigate other areas of family stress, e.g. school, social work
  • Helping; "Investedinhelping"
  • Honesty and openness (e.g. being blunt, direct, brave, assertive, challenging)
  • Humour
What is important?
Same as Draft Principles?
What is important?
Different than Draft Principles?
  • Holistic approach; "Lookat thewholeperson"
  • Mutual respect
  • Need to understand trauma
  • Offer access to other supports such as food, financial
  • Offer consistent support for woman (parents) where children have been removed
  • Swift and responsive; Continually improve accessibility and availability; "TherewhenIneedit";"Nopostcodelottery"
  • Trusted relationship
  • Included in loved one's treatment and care (family inclusive practice)
  • Kindness; consideration; caring; nurture
  • Leads to change in my life; makes me feel better
  • Listen (take time and show interest)
  • Lived experience as a qualification/ Learning from lived experience
  • Love and belonging; feeling valued and worthwhile
  • Providing respite/ relaxation/ escape
  • Safe space to talk and open up
  • Support families to have fun
  • Support me to advocate and make decisions for myself
  • Support outside of the family; independent of the family
  • Support to build confidence and self- esteem; reassuring
  • Support to grow knowledge and skills
  • Team approach with family; "a two waystreet"
  • Time and Patience (going at our pace); recognise change can be hard work for families
  • Visible family support and recovery
  • Workers openly demonstrate and share knowledge and skills


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