We have been working with a group of parents who have children aged between 4 and 19 with varying disabilities and complex needs, all of whom either had an EHCP or were in the process of an EHCP, and all of whom confirmed that their child’s views were not sought during their EHCP process.

Only one parent confirmed that her child had been invited to their Annual Review (and stayed for two minutes); for the majority, their child had never been invited.

We wanted to explore how a Multimedia Advocacy approach and the RIX Wiki tool could improve their experience and participation in the EHCP process.  The results were very interesting.

Annual Reviews

Most parents felt that their child/YP could now attend, and contribute to, their Annual Review by using their Wiki.  One confirmed that her son was able to attend and participate in his Annual EHCP Review for the first time.

Collaboration and Communication with Professionals

Parents very much welcome the opportunity for professionals working with their child/YP to provide video input into their Wiki; all felt by having a Wiki their child’s/YP’s EHCP could be better co-ordinated in a joined up way.  For example, one child’s paediatrician provided medical information on their Wiki to aid with secondary school transition.

All parents strongly agreed that their child’s/YP’s communication will be better understood by everyone involved with their child’s/YP’s education and care by accessing their Wiki.

     “The short video of xxx singing the ABC song clearly showed how he tries to pronounce sounds, and this is instant information without having to spend time trying to speak to other professionals.  In time these clips will build to demonstrate improvement progress (or not).”

Comment from parent.

All parents felt that information could be shared in an effective way between professionals by using their child/YP’s Wiki.

     “Makes me and the family more reassured and less stressed to know that we have a way to communicate easily and effectively with others involved in his life”.

Comment from parent.

Transition

All parents felt that having a Wiki could facilitate a smoother transition between educational and residential settings.

     “Leaving home, this would be a fantastic tool to ensure support staff and work experience staff know everything”.
Comment from parent.

     “I can see how this will augment communication and sharing of information between my son and everyone working to support him. As he progresses into adulthood and away from home, we will be able to withdraw, confident that those responsible for him in the future will have access to his history and a clear picture of his current needs; will benefit from input from those who have known him best and xxx himself.”
Comment from parent.

     “I can see the enormous potential of the WIKI for xxx – who is nearly 20 years old.”
Comment from parent.

Achieving for Children (AfC) is a social enterprise company set up  by Kingston and Richmond Councils to provide targeted help and support to children and families in need within the two London boroughs.  It has partnered with RIX Research & Media to pioneer the use of Multimedia Advocacy and the RIX Wiki tool and training to embed person-centred approaches which, it believes will be invaluable in implementing the new Education, Health and Care Plans (EHCP) for those with learning disabilities in the area.

James Mannion, Business Systems Project Manager for AfC, said, “We want to empower our children and young people who face challenges because of their communications difficulties, to show how they can use Wikis to get across their preferences and viewpoints by using pictures, sounds, video and words – to give them a voice and enable them to take control of their lives.  We call this multimedia advocacy.

“We want people to take a full and active role in the EHCP process, and we believe that using Wikis will lead to genuine collaboration between parents, teachers and professionals.”

AfC hosted an event in October last year to show children, parents, carers and teachers in the learning disability community how Multimedia Advocacy and the RIX Wiki can support them.  After the event, James asked parents and carers to share their comments which are highlighted below.  The feedback is critical in ensuring the roll out of Wikis within the borough is effective.

How do you think you might use Wikis?

“I think I could develop a Wiki for /with my autistic Son and use it to collate a full picture of his strengths, aspirations and difficulties.”

“Collecting information from a child/young person’s perspective for Section A of an EHC plan.”

“I like it as a tool to make my son visible to service providers, e.g. local authorities, SAL, and other therapies. And perhaps it can be a campaigning and advocacy tool?”

“As a place for our child to see and celebrate his many successes and friendships.”

“amongst family and professionals to have a greater understanding of my child when he can’t always express things himself for his needs.”

What do you see as the benefits of using Wikis?

“not having to explain how my child is affected by his condition to everyone all the time”

“It is my son in his environment and snapshots of his actual life and not a piece of paper that service providers get to see. He might find it very empowering to be involved in creating this.”

“The wiki presents as a user friendly, up to the minute way of engaging a child/young person in the process of creating their EHC plan in a positive meaningful way, without appearing an overwhelming, bureaucratic or overly corporate process in which they may feel they don’t belong.”

As a result of the event, there are a further four schools who want to lead the way using Multimedia Advocacy and RIX Wikis and there are also two families who want to use Wikis for their annual reviews.

AfC is also taking further the use of RIX Wikis in Education, Health and Care (EHC) plans.  Instead of using a conventional Section A of an EHC plan, parents and carers could use a Wiki instead of the form to convey the views, interests and aspirations of the child or young person.

This is an exemplar of a new EHC plan template that has been posted on AfC’s Local Offer website  https://www.afclocaloffer.org.uk/.