Comprehensive services for complex needs: assessing the evidence for three approaches: wraparound, multisystemic therapy and the link worker model

Document type
Literature review
Terry, Lucy; Scott, Gael; Khan, Lorraine
Revolving Doors Agency
Date of publication
29 January 2015
Social Work, Social Care and Social Services, Offenders, Mental health services, Criminal Justice Services, Housing and Homelessness, Poverty Alleviation Welfare Benefits and Financial Inclusion, Substance Misuse
Social welfare
Material type

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Research has identified a group of people facing multiple and complex needs, who are in repeat contact with the criminal justice system. Their needs include mental and physical health problems, substance misuse, poor housing and homelessness, unemployment, poverty, low educational attainment, behavioural issues and repeat offending. 

This paper introduces three service models that aim to improve outcomes for people with multiple and complex needs. These are: Multisystemic Therapy (MST), wraparound, and the link worker model. Although the three models differ from each other in many ways, all three attempt to support people who have not been helped effectively by traditional services. All three models adopt strategies which are holistic, which respond to individual need, which incorporate client choice, which cross professional boundaries and which work specifically to address complex needs.

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