Q&A with Cate Keady from the Elver Program

Since 2018, Cate Keady has worked within the Department of Communities and Justice to establish and manage the Intensive Support Services Elver Program – in partnership with South Western Sydney Local Health District. Cate recently spoke at our Therapeutic Specialist Forum about the Elver Program, an innovative program that is supporting children and young people in out of home care (age 6 to 17) affected by chronic trauma. I followed up with Cate to ask some further questions relevant to those working in Intensive Therapeutic Care in New South Wales.

To recap, what is the Elver Program?

The Elver Program is a partnership between DCJ and South Western Sydney Local Health District and delivers:

  • Specialist multi‐disciplinary clinical services to children under 18 years in statutory OOHC with intensive and complex needs
  • Consultation and capacity building
  • Contribute to the evidence base effectively treat trauma

It is comprised of a multidisciplinary team, including Psychiatry, OT, Speech pathologist, Clinical  Psychologist, CNC, SW, mental health clinicians, admin, DCJ  Manager.

The children and young people we serve have complex developmental profiles mental health needs, behavioural challenges and significant trauma histories.

Our Model of Care and interventions are based on the presentation of the young person and the needs of the system around them. They include:

  • Specific assessments and interventions:
  • Assessment, education and support of the care system
  • Highlighting the needs of the child
  • Facilitating coordination of various systems particularly at  transition points
Does the Elver program offer a service to ITC houses where young people refused to attend office-based mental health appointments?

Where children have been accepted to our service we provide a range of options for reviews and appointments. These include:

  • Outreach appointments where this is assessed as the best option and where there are staffing and resource capacity to support the appointment
  • Face to face reviews/sessions in our office in Parramatta
  • Reviews/sessions via video link; eg MS Teams or facetime

We aim to be flexible wherever possible however our consultant psychiatrist’s diaries are usually heavily booked which can impact on their capacity for face to face outreach appointments. We also need to ensure we are being COVID safe and work within the boundaries of NSW Health advice and DCJ policy. COVID policy restrictions and advice have impacted our usual work practices and ability to do outreach work in 2020, especially where it involves travel. We hope to be able to resume travel in 2021 once restrictions ease however in the meantime we will continue to utilise video links for consults and reviews where possible.

Co-ordination of all appointments go through the allocated Elver clinician who would work with a child’s care team to decide on the best option to meet a child’s needs.

Does the Elver program provide any education for residential regarding mental health medication?

To date, education has mostly been offered directly to care teams around a child that has been accepted by our service and tailored to their specific circumstances. We are interested in expanding opportunities for education to residential and ITC services into the future and keen to better understand the topics services are interested in learning more about.

For more information, you can contact Cate Keady on Ph: 9354 2334.