Working together to support disabled parents
Template of a local, joint-working protocol - Implementation of the protocol
- Publication and dissemination
- Designated responsibility for implementation of the protocol
- Supervision and team meetings
- Practice seminars/case discussions
It will be very important that steps are taken to ensure that all relevant members of staff, across all relevant agencies are aware of and use the protocol. There are a number of processes which will help with this.
The experience of local authorities which have demonstrated good practice in this area is that an attractive publication is essential to promote effective dissemination. The use of graphics to display care pathways helps practitioners to be clear about the procedures to be followed.
Local authorities have used a range of methods to disseminate their protocols (apart from training, mentioned below). These include:
- launching the protocol at an event for staff from relevant agencies, with the support of senior managers
- holding a series of multi-agency, multi-disciplinary workshops for practitioners
- having a designated webpage, linked to the websites of participating agencies.
The protocol will need to be incorporated into existing training programmes for staff, for example, training on assessment and care management procedures, the Framework for the assessment of children in need and their families and multi-agency training on child protection procedures.
Good practice authorities involved disabled parents in training and this has proved very effective in getting key messages to staff and helping to bring about cultural change. Sometimes there will be local organisations that can provide input, in other cases national organisations such as the Disabled Parents Network and CHANGE can provide training. A list of organisations that can help with training is provided.
In some localities professional advisers in adults’ and children’s services have been given the task of developing the protocol. In others, a project worker has been appointed to do this. It is important that this coordinating and development role is continued into the implementation stage and that resources in the form of designated staff time are allocated for this task. In many areas, individual practitioners (because of personal interest and experience) have acted as informal 'champions’ of good practice in supporting disabled parents. Some localities, in developing their protocols, have found it useful to formalise this role and have identified people in each team whose role is to:
- be familiar with the practice and principles of the protocol
- keep up to date with practice developments
- be a point of contact for practitioners working with a disabled parent.
People who take on the role of champion should not be expected to take on all cases allocated to a team which involve a disabled parent, but instead should be a resource for team members who may not be so familiar with the issues involved.
It will be important that champions are supported in this role, for example, by providing training opportunities.
The routine processes used by agencies to promote good and consistent practice also have a key role to play. Supervision, team meetings and informal discussions with colleagues are all ways in which individual practitioners are supported to do good quality work.
In some areas, practitioners have found it useful to hold practice seminars bringing together the range of agencies and professionals that may be involved with families affected by parental disability or additional needs. These discussions can also be a useful mechanism for disseminating and reviewing the protocol.