Working together to support disabled parents
Developing local, joint-working protocols
There is no one way of developing a protocol since so much depends on local circumstances and personnel. We identify here some of the key processes and tasks that have formed part of other localities’ development of protocols.
- Identify which services and which managers need to be involved and form a working group
- Involve local disability and voluntary sector groups and individual parents
- Decide on a work plan for the group
- Plan for implementation, monitoring and evaluation
In forming a working group it will be necessary to reach a balance between a workable group and involving managers from all key services. Experience has shown that working groups responsible for developing local, joint-working protocols need to include managers from adults’ and children’s services. All working group participants should be in a position to progress decisions in relation to the protocol either by virtue of their seniority or through access to decision-makers in their service. The working group should secure senior managers’ support from the outset.
Where resources have allowed, it has been found extremely useful to appoint a project manager to liaise between the working group and other relevant services. Where this has not been possible it has been vital to establish at the outset how the working group will communicate effectively with services not represented on the working group.
It is essential to identify how parents’ involvement will be resourced and to involve them fully. For example, how will their travel and other expenses, including childcare, be paid? Who will arrange for accessible versions of papers to be available and who will pay for interpreters if they are required, including BSL interpreters?
It is particularly important to consider how to involve, or at a minimum to receive feedback from, groups of parents whose views are seldom heard. Experience has shown that careful consideration needs to be given to the most appropriate methods of involving these groups.
The guide provides more information about involving parents in developing protocols.
Some of the tasks you might want to consider for the work plan and which have proved important in developing support for parents with additional needs include:
- gathering evidence about the needs of local parents with additional requirements
- reading relevant research and getting advice from specialist agencies
- identifying local strategic goals and establishing shared goals
- examining good practice examples of joint protocols from elsewhere
- working with service managers to establish agreement on key issues, including financial responsibilities and arrangements for resolving disagreements between services
- drafting the protocol, or adapting models from elsewhere that have been found useful
- desk testing the protocol against local, anonymous or fictional cases
- presenting the draft protocol to all relevant agencies and at all operational levels to establish how it would work in practice and gathering their feedback
- preparing the final protocol and presenting to senior managers for approval
- securing councillor interest, ownership and formal approval.
The creation of a protocol is the first stage of an ongoing process. Identifying and monitoring strategic goals will contribute to its successful implementation and ongoing development.
The good practice survey found that routine and effective support for parents can only be sustained where good practice is embedded in service structures that are backed by flexible financial and monitoring arrangements, and when outcomes across agencies and service divisions are evaluated and responded to accordingly.
The following measures were found useful in implementing and developing protocols:
- Present protocols to professionals and parents in a clear, well-designed format.
- Collect evidence that can be used to evaluate outcomes across services and agencies.
- Keep local councillors and service leaders appraised of progress and evaluations.
- Keep progress towards strategic goals under review.
- Measure evidence and feedback from professionals and service users.
- Maintain inter-agency involvement in training and in monitoring and further developing the protocol.
- Anticipate training and research needs that are likely to arise in the short to medium term and plan how these will be funded .
- Form working groups to progress/clarify specific interface issues.
The next section of this guidance comprises a template for writing a joint protocol, setting out the different procedures that will need to be covered.