Hertfordshire Community NHS Trust (HCT) provides services like Occupational Therapy, Speech and Language Therapy and Physiotherapy to children and young people in Hertfordshire. Responding to feedback they have received about the service, they have made the following improvements:
- There is now a single point for referrals to the Therapy Service making it easier for parents, carers and professionals and allowing a quicker response to queries. This also allows for services to work to statutory timeframes and improved monitoring systems
- They have made improvements in the quality of the service, including increasing the number of appointments available
- They have introduced an Integrated Advice Line for parents and professionals for all 3 therapy disciplines with a message facility available 24/7, and with daily call back from therapists
- Universal Sensory Information sessions are now available for parents and carers without the need for a referral to the OT service. This will give parents a greater understanding and confidence to support their child earlier in their journey, minimising risk of longer term impacts.
- Various training sessions and workshops have been developed for parents, carers and professionals that can be accessed virtually
- You said: you wanted school staff training to include specific info about your children's sensory needs
We did: we created a new sensory training package for school staff to be delivered this summer
- You said: the provision in EHCP reports was sometimes not clear enough
We did: we have updated our EHCP reports to improve the specificity in the health provision
- You said: you sometimes have to wait too long at the SLT drop in clinics
We did: we now offer bookable virtual screening clinics for SLT and OT
In response to feedback from their service users, our Early Years team have been making improvements to the Early Years offer for children with SEND and/or additional needs. Here are some improvements they have recently made to better support families of young children with emerging needs:
- A new role of SEND Champions has been created in family centres. The SEND Champions have all received training from HPCI into how to signpost parents to access better information and advice. They will also be receiving training from our Specialist Advisory Teachers in autism awareness and basic awareness of SEND.
- Making it clearer to families the different pathways of Early Years support a child may access
The CAMHS service are working hard on improvements they have identified after feedback from their service users and are finding ways of transforming mental health services for children and young people.
Our short breaks service offers disabled children and young people the chance to spend time out with others socialising and doing activities, whilst giving their families a break and providing them with the confidence that they are safe with trained carers . In the last year, HCC has been working hard with the organisations who provide the Short Break Local Offer (‘SBLO’), to ensure that these services have adapted to be Covid-safe.
Due to Covid, the planned recommissioning has been put on hold and in the meantime we have been focussing on making sure existing services are safe for children, as well as working with our providers to improve their virtual offer. We will be reviewing the virtual offer and use the learning post-covid to decide whether it will be valuable to families to continue running a virtual offer in the future.
Overnight Short Breaks
We have responded to service-users feedback and have been working hard during the pandemic to keep this important service open. The service provides a break for parents and carers, whilst their children stay, for a short amount of time, in a safe and suitable setting. Having access to this support has important benefits for both carers and their children, helping the carer continue to care for their child and providing the child with a change from daily routine and an opportunity to develop new skills and mix with their peers.
The recommissioning of the service (which we were planning as a result of feedback from service users) has been put on hold to avoid extra pressure on the service in these difficult times, and will now go out to tender in 2021, for a new service to be put in place in 2022.
In the meantime, we have been able to carry out other improvements to the service:
- All staff have received infection-control training
- We have re-viewed the health training of our providers to enable access to more users (e.g. gastrofeeding and epilepsy)
- In April, we set up a Covid isolated suite for children with Covid who can’t be looked after at home
- We have worked together with parents and carers to update the current delivery model and ensure that the services are consistent across the county, that they are of good quality and are delivering best value.
Homecare provides support to Children and Young People with SEND and their families in their home and community and is another priority service which we have kept running throughout Covid. The impact of the pandemic on families in the past year has proved challenging and some families chose not to receive their homecare, whilst others found they needed more support. We have met these families’ different needs and have also ensured the home care market was supported during the lockdown so that these services will still exist to families post-Covid. All of the staff working in our home care providers have been fully trained in infection-control and are given all the PPE needed to keep themselves and their clients safe.
Ask, Listen, Do is a project led by NHS England that aims to make it easier for people with SEND and their families to issue feedback, voice their concerns or make a complaint. The initiative aims to support organisations to learn from and develop better ways of using feedback to help improve services across education, health and social care.
We (Hertfordshire County Council) are working in partnership with NHS England on the Ask, Listen, Do project.