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Paving the way

Posted: 05/01/17

A guest blog from family carer Jackie Martel who talks about why a new Children's Pathway is needed and how a set of three new resources will help Transforming Care partnerships, local authorities and CCGs to work together with local families to develop a new approach.

My son Tomas became 18 in September and we have been grappling with various “transition” processes for a couple of years. The first one to kick in was for education.  We needed to identify a post-16 education placement suitable for our son’s complex mixture of autism, profound learning disability and sensory processing difficulties, all of which led to him struggling with change and responding in ways which challenge us and service providers.

We were aware of the difficulties associated with transition and so were pushing for early discussions - but we found a process that really didn’t want to move faster than they “usually” went, and a process that wanted us to go from service to service and be told “no” before moving on to the next option. We were very excited to finally see a new post 16 unit at a special school particularly focussing on young people whose behaviour challenges, only to be told – “oh no – not that challenging – we don’t have a separate low arousal space”. It was hugely frustrating that at no point was there an opportunity to speak to local authority managers with any ability to vary the “process”. No effort was made to actually look at my son's needs and consider which of the different settings might be able to meet them.

We have commonly seen other young people we know placed in settings just because the providers are willing to say “yes we can meet their needs” even though the placement or subjects being offered aren’t what the young person or parents actually want. Sadly it’s because there are no other options. These inappropriate placements usually end in numerous exclusions and rounds of meetings but no joint working with education, social care or health to look at what other options could better meet their needs and reduce the risk of escalating challenges that ultimately result in crisis placements miles from home.

Having a clear strategy and framework to plan for and meet the needs of our children and young people, as well as develop the options for them at this transition point is essential to give them the best start as adults.

To download the three new resources click here.