Video conferencing: How it can be used to support practice
What's Important To Us
Engagement and collaborative planning with children and young people, their family/whānau and other professionals is vital to practice. Video conferencing, used in conjunction with face to face engagement, enhances our ability to communicate with children and young people, their family/whānau and other professionals when distance or time factors are an issue.
Using video conferencing to support practice
Using the video conference facility enables more contact between the social worker, children, young people and wider family/whānau. It also provides additional opportunities for family-led decision making and to have more family/whānau participate in family group conferences when geographical distance is an issue.
Using the video conference facility should never replace face to face contact between social workers and children and young people or contact with their family/whānau, nor should it replace having as many family/whānau members as possible attending a family group conference in person.
Four main areas of use
- Family group conferences
- Professionals meetings
- Social worker contact with a child or young person placed in a residential setting outside of their home area
- Contact between children, young people and their family/whānau or significant people when geographical distance makes frequent face-to-face contact difficult.
Important things to remember
- Plan ahead, be organised and have the room prepared with all the resources you need
- Consider your presentation and that of the room you are in, avoid bright colours, cluttered backgrounds, sparkly jewellery and fast movements
- Treat your virtual meeting as if you were meeting in person; be on time, courteous and professional
- Make sure everyone has access to the same information and that everyone is aware of the purpose of the session - this might mean that papers or documents need to be provided in advance of the meeting
- Introduce everyone in the room and announce if anyone enters or leaves the room
- Set the ground rules for the session at the beginning
- Avoid un-necessary background noise and distractions.
Family group conference
- Never use the video conference as an alternative to having family/whānau at the family group conference in person; use it as an opportunity to have more family/whānau participation in the conference
- Let people know in advance if possible that you will be using the video conference; some people may be apprehensive about being on camera
- Ensure that those on camera have equal participation as those in the room, set the ground rules and have a plan of how you will manage conflict
- Ensure that you know who is in the video conference room at the other end; this may require assistance from staff in another area to monitor who comes and goes from the video conference room so that the privileged environment of the family group conference is maintained
- For those participating by video link ensure they have access to a support person and are able to indicate easily if they are becoming distressed or need a break. Consider how they will access refreshments and bathroom facilities.
- Send out any written material, agenda items and resources well before the meeting
- Address any issues of confidentiality and the appropriateness and purpose of sharing sensitive information with everyone in the meeting
- Make sure that plans from the meeting are clear and understood by everyone before ending the meeting
- Follow-up the meeting by sending out minutes to all participants as soon as possible so that any errors can be corrected.
Social worker contact with children and young people staying in a residence
- Face-to-face visits are still required; video contact is in addition to, not instead of
- Video conferencing will ideally not be used for the first contact with the child or young person
- Review meetings between the child or young person, residential staff and social worker are a good use of the video conference resource
- Make contact with the residential social worker before the video conference and plan how the child or young person will be supported during the contact and what will happen if they become upset, worried, angry or distressed
- Plan ahead with the child or young person what you will talk about in the time you have and how they will let you know if they need a break.
Contact between children and young people and their family/whānau
- Face-to-face visits are still important; the video conference allows opportunity for more contact that is additional to other contact
- Address supervision requirements: are there any areas of risk for the child or young person such as inappropriate adult talk, verbal abuse or exposure to people the child should not be having contact with?
- Have an appropriate person there to support the child or young person during the contact, and make sure there is someone ready to respond if they become upset, worried or distressed.