Over the last few years, like many parents, we have been focussing on the forthcoming Children and Families Act. We've been busy keeping you updated and looking at the implications for our own families. One thing many of us haven't been doing - because we haven't had time, is looking ahead to what the future holds for our children. If you are anything like me, you will leave thinking about the future until you think you have to start looking into it but usually, as is often the case, you find yourself wishing you had started earlier.
With my other hat on, I have been looking at some of what the future holds with Bringing Us Together. We recently held a workshop for families of older children and young people to discuss Family Rights, Citizenship and the Mental Capacity Act. We were keen to find out what was and wasn't working for these families.
The findings from this workshop were published this week and they don't make pleasant reading. Bringing Us Together's What's Not Working post highlights some real issues for families.
We also asked the families how they kept their young people safe, loved, happy and in the driving seat of a purposeful life. We wanted to know what did work for them. We wanted to share those with you on Special Needs Jungle so that you can start thinking about what you may need to know.
- Developing Circles of Support
- Including brothers and sisters in the Circle
- Being with people who love and care about the disabled person
- Living independently in same area as family and building relationships
- Having family around to support when and if needed
- Being involved
- Ensuring he is listened to – especially when he wants a hug
- Being with people who love and care about that person
- Employing a PA co-ordinator to oversee that the disabled young person’s life runs effectively
- Information on rights and also what is not right
- Developing Circles
- Rules – predictability to help with understanding
- Information on rights and what is wrong
- Living independently in same area as mum and building relationships
- Ensuring staff are safe and competent “know what to do”
- Appointing Deputies to support decision making processes
- People around to read and understand the subtle signs
- Photographs to record experiences
- Different people involved to agree what happy looks like
- Living in own flat with good PA
- Having the power and being 18yrs old
- Making own decisions
- Decided which PAs to go out with
- Being made Gala Queen
- Good relationships
- Family close by
- Having a fiancé
- Making own choices around music – accommodating so music can be heard wherever he go
- Having fun times and doing what he wants to do and what he likes to do when he wants
In the Driving Seat of a Purposeful Life:
- Being willing to give up your “mum” hat if you want them to be truly happy
- Expect to hear things you don’t like or agree with
- Financial Deputy very helpful in ensuring person retains benefits
- Need for information for families to understand the processes around Mental Capacity
- Cameron Trust using Deputyship appropriately
- Opens own post
- Having his own flat
- Having own front door key
- Having own credit cards
- Finding an incentive whether it is a payslip, time bank etc.
- Circle ensuring contribution to community
- Being involved in the community
- Being an employer – knock on effect of enabling creative families
- Using people’s gifts and skills
- Ensuring that we investigate a person’s interests and appoint PAs accordingly
- Voluntary work – talks to parents
- Achievements – exams etc.
- Having plans for the future
- Having ambitions
- Values part time job – raises self esteem
As a mum to children aged 10 and under, this was a real wake up call for me. I read through some of the comments from the day and thought "wow, if I think it is difficult now, it's not necessarily going to get any easier". However, I feel slightly more prepared now due to my involvement in this project.
So, what can you do?
Forewarned is Forearmed, or so they say. Being informed helps us to make informed decisions.
Over on Bringing Us Together, we have put together a page of some of the resources the families recommended around the Mental Capacity Act.
Another useful site with some great resources is the Preparing for Adulthood site. Their Delivering Support and Aspiration publication is particularly useful when looking at the Children and Families Act and the implications for our young people.
Another site I have personally found useful has been Staffordshire County Council's website. Their Transition into Adult Life page has lots of great resources.
What sites or resources have you found useful?
If you have reached the transition stage already, what one tip for parents of younger children would you pass on? What do you wish you had known?