Historically referred to as family liaison officer, the role of family support lead is carried out by a senior member of staff as part of their job role.

Following a serious incident, the family support lead is a single point of contact for a family and will support them through the serious incident process. They work alongside the incident investigation lead ensuring that the family are supported throughout. The length of time they may be involved with a family and the level of involvement varies.  

Currently the role is completed by senior healthcare practitioners for example deputy manager, team manager, clinical lead or matron for quality. It's been recognised that has been no formal training to support staff to confidently and competently fulfil the role. This has led to inconsistent experiences for families and we know that this has been difficult for the staff also.

Because of the similarities in role titles, there also has sometimes been confusion between what police family liaison officers and health family liaison officers do.

As part of the Kinnect project, we have been reviewing the role of the family liaison officer at our Trust to better understand how and where we can improve.

This has included:

  • Speaking to other organisations, including healthcare and police, to understand how the role works where they are.
  • Carrying out a survey with staff to find out about your experiences and understanding around the family liaison role.
  • Looking at what information we provide to families

Our aim is to make sure the support families receive from our Trust following a serious incident is consistent and the staff completing this role feel confident and equipped to do this well.

For this, we have committed to have:

  • developed and appraised options for the delivery of family liaison.
  • described the role, remit and responsibilities of the family support lead
  • developed resources for the training and support of staff undertaking the role

We aim to have the guidance, resources and training in place from September 2020. This will be a continuous cycle of improvement as we evaluate and learn from feedback.


If you want to know more about the work that is going on in this workstream, please contact one of the members of the group.

  • Julie Critchley, Head of Quality, St Helens
  • Tracey Beatty, Clinical Lead for CAMHS Assessment and Response
  • Ann Dyer, Matron for Quality, Halton
  • Lorna Green, Patient Safety Lead

To avoid confusion and provide clarity around the role, the family liaison officer will now be referred to as family support lead.

Guidance for those undertaking the role has been developed.

A training package and resources to support those in the role has been developed and a pilot of the training sessions took place in September 2020.

Peer support sessions have been established to ensure those undertaking the role feel supported and are able to share and discuss experiences. These can also be recorded on MySupervision.

There is now a dedicated Family Support Lead section on StaffZone for anyone who is undertaking the family support lead role to access information and resources.