Sensory services and support for children in Devon
Devon’s Multi-Agency strategy for Children and Young People with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) 2017 – 2020 confirms that Devon has “…high aspirations for all our children and young people with Special Educational Needs and disabilities (SEND), and will ensure that they are at the heart of everything we do and part of every decision we make”
The way that education, health and care services are delivered to children and young people with SEND and their families has undergone significant change, both nationally and locally. Since 2011 changes from central government have driven the need to re-design services and review working practices. Devon’s SEND improvement board have identified the following 6 strategic priorities:
In Devon we are currently reviewing the way in which Sensory Services for Children are provided and want to ensure they are personalised, integrated and delivered in a way which supports children and young people to achieve the best possible outcomes:
We are considering support for children and young people:
• Who are deaf or have a hearing impairment,
• Who have a visual impairment
• Who have a multi-sensory impairment i.e. their combined sight and hearing impairment causes difficulties with communication, access to information and mobility
Our current service offer:
Devon County Council have commissioned the Rehabilitation Officer Visually Impaired Childrens (ROVIC) Service to supply a service to identify, assess, care plan and deliver intervention for children and young people with needs arising from Visual Impairment and/or who are Deafblind/have a Multi Sensory Impairment. This is delivered by Virgin Care Ltd.
ROVICs has been commissioned to provide an equitable provision of habilitation and rehabilitation for children and young people aged 0-18 years with Visual Impairment as well as those who are Deafblind across Devon. The service is delivered by appropriately trained staff, which includes Re/Habilitation Officers as well as those with relevant qualifications in Multi-Sensory Impairment. The commissioned service meets the Local Authority’s duty to provide:-
• Appropriate registration of sight impairment under the National Assistance Act (1948).
• Appropriate registration, assessment, care planning and review as required of children and young people with Visual Impairment under the Chronically Sick and Disabled Persons Act (1970).
• The responsibility under Section 7 of the Local Authority Social Services Act (1970) to act on the care and support for Deafblind children and adults policy guidance which includes to keep a record of all Deafblind children.
• Maintain a register of children with Visual Impairment, in line with the Local Authority’s duty to maintain a register of all disabled children under the Children Act (1989).
ROVICs is also commissioned to raise awareness across Devon about the needs of children and young people with Visual Impairment or Deafblindness including delivering awareness training to other professionals, where appropriate.
Devon County Council also commissions specialist advisory teacher service, Teachers of the Deaf, Teachers of Visual impairment and teacher Multi-sensory Impairment. The teams are supported by Educational Audiologist, Advisory Deaf Inclusion workers, Visual Impairment ICT technician and a specialist Sensory Co-ordinator. The service is commissioned to provide teaching, support, advice, Early Help and interventions for children and young people 0-25, where a visual, hearing or multi-sensory impairment is having an impact on their ability to access education. This service is provided by Babcock LDP.
There are also a range of service provided by schools so that they meet their responsibilities to offer inclusive and accessible environments for children with sensory support needs.
What we know about the current offer to families?
The ROVIC service is well resourced and provides high quality services “ROVICs are fantastic, deafblind assessment is very important for deafblind children. Made a huge positive impact to my child”
Families and professionals also tell us that the following is important to them in order to make services a success for them:
• Families want to feel well informed about waiting times and treatment options and availability, with information and support available whilst they wait.
• One person is identified who the child young person and family can contact.
• Help and advice about a whole range of things is available in one place
• Services are joined up flexible and responsive
• Families want to be involved and engaged in their child’s plan and also in the wider service delivery for disabled children
• access to communication support services is a priority for them
• Better join up of services to meet multi-sensory needs
Children also tell us that they need support at an earlier point to avoid crises occurring and that transitions is a difficult time for them.
We are aware that there is a need to further develop the integration of provision and plan for the workforce in this highly specialist area, when there is a gap in the workforce, for whatever reason, there is a gap in the services available to children.
Alongside the consultation below we will be offering opportunities for staff and professionals to engage with us in the future design and we will be opening discussion forums through the Local Offer Reference Group, DPCV and other engagement forums with parents. We will be running engagement sessions for children and young people. We will set a schedule of dates in for the next few months, and publish these on the Local Offer Website.