Today Joanne and Vivien from Greenwich Parent Voice took part in the Royal Borough of Greenwich 0-25 Children and Young People’s Therapies Service Market Engagement Event in Deptford. In short, this was a meeting bringing together a range of senior professionals across all the therapies that your child might need (Occupational Therapy, Physio, Speech and Language (SaLT) to discuss how services should be delivered in future.
We gave a presentation on the recent Speech and Language service consultation project earlier in the year. We described how we had worked with the council to visit schools in different areas in the borough, mainstream and specialist, talking to parents about current SaLT provision and what they thought could be improved. This took place concurrently with a consultation with children and young people. The points raised in both consultations are already influencing commissioning.
Today, we took the findings to an even wider audience: future providers who will bid for the SaLT contracts in Greenwich, schools, managers in the council, health trusts and commissioners. This was our chance to make sure parents’ needs take centre-stage, at the earliest stage of service planning.
We also joined in round-table discussions about what parents should expect from the therapy services in future. We were really impressed by the importance placed on parent empowerment by the professionals, who felt as strongly as we do that parents should be fully supported to get involved, not just at meetings and goal setting but also in co-working, so that we can extend the therapy delivered at school into the home. We spoke about the current obstacles to this and how that could be changed.
Other topics discussed at the meeting included how future service providers can also contribute ‘social value’ in Greenwich; this could include employment oportunties, best practice models and training opportunities. Also on the agenda: creating ‘communication-friendly’ environments, improving working links between different therapies and the important issue of the earliest possible intervention.
In our opinion, today’s event was a really enouraging indication that parent views are actually influential in designing services. The feedback you give us at our coffee mornings, walks, drop-ins, online and in schools really does have an impact in changing things for the better. We will keep you posted in the development of this commissioning process for therapies, which concludes in Autumn 2016.