Frequently asked questions

Quality Assurance

Q: How can I be sure Contact's training is high-quality?

Our courses and workshops are routinely evaluated after delivery, averaging 97 per cent satisfaction rate by participants. They're delivered by our experienced and knowledgeable Contact professionals, drawing on 40 years' experience working with families with disabled children, and are co-produced with parents themselves.

All trainers delivering courses for Contact hold a teaching qualification relevant to the adult learning sector. Many have additional qualifications relevant to their professional background, including those in education, welfare rights and nursing qualifications.

We are a member of the Helplines Partnership and accredited to their quality standard, meaning the direct support we provide to tens of thousands of parent carers each year is externally assessed and accredited.

Our approach to commercial services

Q: Why does Contact offer training and consultancy services?

We recognise that there is a vast network of support structures and services that surround families with disabled children. Our ambition is to be there for every family with a disabled child, whenever they need us, but we also want to help professionals to deliver the best possible service.

Our training courses and consultancy services are designed to work with you to ensure you can deliver high quality and supportive services for families, while also remaining within your own organisation's objectives and frameworks. In addition, our commercial work subsidises our charitable activities, meaning we're able to provide more support directly to families who need our services.

Our core workshop offer to families

Q: I'm interested in purchasing this for the families we support, but why is Contact a trusted expert on sleep?

We have worked with families and clinical experts for nearly 40 years to look at a variety of ways of helping children (and parents) to sleep. We have trained 'sleep practitioners', and we offer a parent-focussed course informed by our extensive work with parents.

Q: And on managing challenging behaviour?

In addition to our long-standing experience, we worked closely with the Challenging Behaviour Foundation to devise the content for our workshops.

Q: And what about managing money?

We have a dedicated team on our freephone helpline who support parents to navigate the welfare system. Our helpline offers parents the chance to have extended discussions about their financial situation, with a particular focus on reducing financial disadvantage among those with disabled children.

We also produce a wide range of guides and information to help parents to manage their finances. We've gained a detailed and wide-ranging knowledge of the specific financial pressures families may come under, and we've used this experience to develop our courses.

Q: And why is Contact generally a trusted expert on parent resilience and wellbeing?

Our parent advisory team are qualified trainers and hold many other clinical and professional qualifications. Since we were established, we've spent 40 years working with and speaking to parents to determine what works for them.

Every two years we undertake a major piece of research to identify the current issues and challenges for the families we support. We also carry out broader research into wellbeing and mindfulness, and their impact on parent carers. In Northern Ireland we're about to start delivering an accredited programme of wellbeing training, which we plan to also rollout across England.

Taken together, this expertise combined with our unique mission to support the whole family means we have a deep understanding of the causes and solutions for promoting family wellbeing.


Q: What is co-production?

Co-production is legally defined, within the guidance accompanying the Care Act 2014, as being "when an individual influences the support and services received, or when groups of people get together to influence the way that services are designed, commissioned, and delivered. Such interventions can contribute to developing individual resilience and independence, as well as ensuring that services reflect what the people who use them want."

More generally, co-production is a method of designing services in which which the service commissioner and service user work together, in partnership, to create a service that works for everyone. The approach is value-driven and based on the principle that those who use a service are best places to help design it.

Q: What is Contact's background in co-production?

We were founded in the 1970s by parents who wanted to develop mutual support while improving services for their children. They realised they had unique insight and expertise to share, and it was on that realisation that Contact was founded. Today this means parent participation is in our DNA, and we pride ourselves on having strong parent carer representation and input at all levels of our organisation, including around 25 per cent of our staff.

In the late 1990s, we began to influence the government to adopt a co-production policy with parent carers when designing services. Today we have a strong, expert parent carer participation team delivering a major support programme to 150 parent carers forums across England. In recent years we have overseen a 23 per cent growth in membership of parent carer forums, while processing small grants to a combined value of £2.3m on behalf of the Department for Education, a contract we have held since 2008.

We incubated the National Network of Parent Carer Forums in its early days and continue to support its development as a strong national voice. Each year we host an annual parent carer forum conference, the largest single gathering for parent involvement and co-production in the UK.

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