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Unhappy childhood experiences impact health and wellbeing later in life

Posted on the 3rd May 2016

The impact of unhappy childhood experiences on people’s health later in life and how picking up on these at an early stage can prevent subsequent poor health was the subject of an event recently organised by Lancashire Care NHS Foundation Trust along with Liverpool John Moores University.

Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE) can trigger changes that contribute to developing diseases and lead to shortened life spans. As a result, a host of individuals who work in health and social care settings came together at the event on Tuesday 26 April 2016, in which health professionals from the Trust spoke about ACE and the Trust’s flagship REACh programme (Routine Enquiry about Adversity in Childhood).

REACh is a process developed by the Trust in which practitioners routinely ask people about traumatic or adverse experiences during the assessment process, providing opportunities to plan suitable ways to offer help if needed.

Dr Warren Larkin, Clinical Director of the Children and Families Network at the Trust, said:

“Adverse childhood experiences can have a long term negative physical, mental and social impact on the health and wellbeing of people later in life - it is with this in mind that the Trust has developed this unique process known as REACh. People exposed to adverse experiences in childhood die almost 20 years earlier than those who haven’t been exposed to such experiences. In fact, preventing adverse experiences in future generations could reduce a whole gambit of conditions such as teen pregnancies, binge drinking and mental illness.

“The event saw a whole host of individuals from a range of services who were introduced to REACh and ways in which it could be adapted in their settings. We want to support change in practices and the sharing of information, thus making routine enquiry about adversity in childhood to become a `normal` service response. The idea is to make prevention, early help and early intervention opportunities available for all service providers.”

Lancashire Care is also developing a number of training packages for professionals that would support them to develop confidence to routinely ask about adversity, increase their knowledge and awareness of the issue, and develop skills in responding appropriately to disclosures.

For further information about REACh contact 01772 777105 or email reach@lancashirecare.nhs.uk.