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The IPPOCA project (Improving Professional Practice On Child Abuse) is funded by DG Justice – European Commission and falls under the Daphne III programme. It is led by the Meyer Children Hospital in Florence (IT), with the following partners:
The project began in June 2013 and is due to run until January 2015. Its aim consists in improving knowledge and practices implemented by pediatric hospital partners’ health staff in case of a suspected child victim of abuse or maltreatment. Objectives are attained by the production of a manual based on the replies of a questionnaire set up in order to get a comprehensive picture of procedures already implemented by the three partner hospitals. Subsequently the evaluation of results is done in order to select a range of best practices already in use. This information is listed in an annex attached to the manual. The content of the manual is focused on issues regarding the abuse suspect: if a specific protocol to apply exists, who detects the suspect, who has to report it, how it is treated, if and how other professionals are involved. To reach a constructive comparison it was first necessary to understand the social and economic context as well as the law framework each partner is working in, after that it was possible to explore the diverse methodologies applied by the partner hospital health staff to recognize if a child could be a victim of an abuse or maltreatment.
In relation to this manual a teaching programmes was organized in each of the partner institution for its own personnel but not limited to. The main goal is improving the health care professionals’ skills to recognize and identify an abused child but also facilitating the exchange of information on specific procedure to follow, which can be reproduced also in other countries and becoming a common shared method. The health staff working on child abuse and maltreatment often employs a multidisciplinary approach, even if in different ways, so it is strictly interacting with other professionals such as social workers, police, teachers, judges and lawyers.
Hospitals are often the place where a child is submitted to a medical examination and, for this reason, they can constitute the first site where violence can be detected, recognizing either physical or psychological findings. A prompt discover of the problem would lead to a higher protection of the victim. Unfortunately detection and treatment procedures on abused children are in general settled by the single reality because there is not a national defined process. In addition to that most medical professionals are inadequately trained although the diagnosis to detect an abuse requires a high level of skills and experience as well as procedures to be followed especially in complicated cases. It is probably due to this complexity of actions as well as the differences about social contexts, laws and health systems from one country to another that there is a lack of international and transnational protocols, guidelines or manuals applied at the hospital level.
Workstream 0 is intended for all activities related to the general management and coordination of the project (kick-off meetings, project monitoring and evaluation, financial management) as well as the ones which are transverse and therefore difficult to assign just to one specific workstream. Workstream 0 has its own deliverables (final report, work plan, evaluation report) and outputs (meetings).
The objective of this workstream is to collect, through a specific questionnaire, the procedures implemented on child abuse detection and treatment in the three partner hospitals. After the evaluation of data collected, partners reached a consensus on best practices.
One of the objectives of workstream 2 is to design and to draft a manual and a teaching programme proposing common procedures on detecting child abuse. The content is based on the replies of a questionnaire set up in order to get a comprehensive picture of procedures already implemented by the three partner hospitals. The steps further consist on the evaluation as well as on the final consensus of both manual and teaching programmes to use and to disseminate. The overview of the work in terms of planned activities is listed as follows.
The objectives of workstream 3 are the translation of the English version of the manual in the partners’ languages as well as the organization of dissemination activity – consisting in the organisation of events to make the people aware of the results gained by the project and the production of informative materials (posters and leaflets). The teaching programme regards the development of training sessions on the content of the manual, aimed at health professionals working in the partner hospitals but not only. The creation of the website was realized and coordinated by HOPE – the European Hospital and Healthcare Federation with the support of the other partners.
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