Headlines: December 1st, 2005

A guide has been launched that aims to ensure children with complex disabilities receive better and more co-ordinated education, health and social care. The Department of Health and Department for Education and Skills say too few areas are achieving best practice so they have produced the guide to help bring about improvements in services.The new guide says the key to improvement is giving families more choice and involvement in the way care is delivered. It is part of a series being produced to assist people working with children to bring about improvements in line with the National Service Framework for Children, Young People and Maternity. It illustrates the experience of a baby born prematurely and diagnosed with cerebral palsy and epilepsy.

This Complex Disability Exemplar sets out to improve local practice in commissioning and delivery of services for disabled children and to be a training tool for staff working with children with complex needs. It highlights the importance of involving parents, who, it says, are the experts on their own child. It also suggests sharing information and developing greater collaboration between different agencies and professionals.

Ideas in the guide include developing hospital discharge plans in consultation with parents, involving the Child Development Centre in assessments, allocating a key worker to support parents and to help them in dealing with different professionals.

Christine Lenehan, Director of the Council for Disabled Children said the exemplar demonstrated child and family centred services and joined up thinking and action and set out a pathway for all children with complex disability. Professor Sir Alan Craft, president of the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health also welcomed the commitment of the two Departments to promoting the best possible start in life, especially for babies and children with complex needs. “To make sure that no children miss out on services it is good to have a definition from the Departments of the best possible patient journey. Delivery of these services is at a local level and local services will now have a much clearer idea of what families will be expecting,” he added.