Case study: Establishing a culture of parent participation in Jersey
The 'Bailiwick' of Jersey is part of the United Kingdom but is known as a 'Crown Dependency', meaning it is autonomous and self-governing with its own independent administrative, legal and fiscal systems.
The 2014 Children and Families Act, and its associated codes and statutory duties, do not apply in Jersey, but that does not mean that there is no appetite for fostering a stronger culture of parent participation within its services.
Members of the island's health and social care teams had heard about parent carer participation and the difference it was making for families in England, and they decided they wanted to develop a programme in Jersey along the same lines. Their aim was to help empower the parents of disabled children and achieve better outcomes for the families they serve.
The beauty of parent carer participation is that it can flourish in any environment, project or organisation. It's a way of working that requires cultural rather than legislative change, so we were easily able to adapt our knowledge and experience to introduce the concept of parent participation to families, practitioners, and strategic partners on Jersey.
A flexible and bespoke package of support
After discussions about how communication was currently working between families and practitioners, we were able to design a flexible and bespoke support package that included:
- Supportive consultancy services to help partners develop their own operational guidelines and protocols.
- Inclusive training - both for professionals and parent carers (to help them assume representative roles in their newly-created parent carer forum).
- Access to ongoing virtual support via telephone.
- Access to a range of written, digital and other resources for the Jersey toolkit.
Each of these elements was built on research and understanding of the specific challenges Jersey faces. We've also ensured their new parent forum is able to develop a relationship with the National Network of Parent Carer Forums, ensuring they have access to the latest news, information and learning webinars, as well as connecting them to the wider network of 82,000 parent carers contributing to forums on the mainland.
The package was designed to be flexible, enabling Jersey to call on our support as required, in recognition of the fact that forums don't mature overnight and issues can arise over time.
As a result of our consultancy, Jersey is now beginning to develop the structures necessary to move toward a model of self-help and empowerment for parent carers of disabled children. In time, we'll conduct a full evaluation to measure the beneficial effects meaningful parent participation is having in Jersey.
Below are a couple of comments we've received while working with practitioners in Jersey:
You've given me so much to think about…this will have a big impact on the way I work.
I thought I knew what a parent carer forum might be, but there's a lot more to it!