The letter for Peterborough’s Area Wide SEND Inspection has been published. Please follow the link and read the findings.
At Breakthrough Therapy Solutions we are not surprised by the findings as it has highlighted the issues that we have been identifying within education, health and social care across the last few years. These findings provide us with stimulus to lead and shape the work we are doing to develop our service, albeit a private provision, to ensure that outcomes improve for children with SEND, and families can access the provision and support they so desperately require.
Breakthrough Therapy Solutions was born from filling a gap in available provision provided by statutory services and the increasing demand for children and young people with additional needs, with or without a diagnosis, EHCP or specialist provision. Much like choosing a private physio or chiropract, or selecting private dental care. Parents, carers, charities, local authorities and schools can choose to self-fund specialist Occupational Therapy provision for their children, particularly if they are unable to access it elsewhere.
The inspection found that many parents and carers are not clear about what support is available to them, and that effective communication is a continual source of frustration for parents, carers and leaders – we recognise that it can be a minefield for parents to find what is available to them, and use ‘signpost Sundays’ as a method of signposting to statutory/NHS services, charities and support services and other independent professionals, we also have a signposting folder at Breakthrough HQ that parents can access to find other services available to them. Our parent support group on facebook or asking one of our staff for recommendations is always an option.
The inspection identified that there are significant weaknesses in the quality of EHC plans, particularly in relation to social care and health needs. “Too many plans contain insufficient or inaccurate information, which reduces the usefulness of EHC plans in meeting the identified SEND needs”. Most notably for us:
· it takes too long for EHC plans to be updated following the annual reviews
· the updates to EHC plans, following the review meetings, rely on the diligence of professionals, parents and carers, which leaves too much room for error and misunderstanding, and results in amendments being made to plans that are not appropriate
· Personal budgets and personal health budgets are not used enough by parents and carers. The budgets are not well understood or promoted effectively, which reduces the options available to parents, carers and children to act upon what is best for them.
I regularly tell parents about the personal budgets that are available to them, and the additional provision under section F. I have multiple clients that are funded in this manner across Cambridgeshire, Lincolnshire and Norfolk County Councils and this enables their needs to be met with specialist OT or SALT provisions in a targeted and measured way, it also ensures that the parents, school, therapists and other professionals work in a more cohesive manner around the child as they are included in reviews and updates readily.
With this in mind, planning meetings, to set targets and success measures in new EHC plans, are good opportunities for co-production between parents, carers, children, young people and professionals. We attend planning meetings (sometimes called PCP meetings) with you if you require and can talk about your child’s goals, progress to date and methods, strategies or provision that are recommended to be included in their EHCP. In addition, we can provide written evidence to be submitted in support of an EHCP application.
The inspection found that little monitoring of the quality of out of area placement takes place after initial enquiries, and this is something I’ve heard a lot when talking with parents particularly those placed in specialist or out of area provision. They state that “new arrangements are planned from the autumn term 2019 in recognition of the lack of oversight” and I look forward to seeing these changes. However, I always say to parents that they should keep asking, reminding and speaking up for their children and I do so in my professional capacity. Unfortunately, with things as they are currently are, the journey for parents is one that is bumpy, and can be a rollercoaster, and requires parents and professionals to speak out and keep the dialogue open in order for change.
At Breakthrough Therapy Solutions we will keep supporting and empowering you to access services and seek the provision your child requires. We want to see changes for your children and will use our voices together to seek this. We offer a range of support services for parents in addition to specialist provision for your children so that your children with SEND have the opportunities for a future that they deserve.
If we can help you in any way, at whatever stage of your journey, please get in touch: AWyattOT@outlook.com
Alison – Independent Occupational Therapist and Director of Breakthrough Therapy Solutions Ltd.