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Team approach and planning

Best Practice Guidelines

Interdisciplinary team working, preparation for the different circumstances of disclosure that may occur and strong team communication are hugely important in the context of informing families of their child’s disability. The Guidelines therefore recommend that:

5.1 Staff members consult with one another and prepare individually and as a team prior to the consultation with parents. Providing a diagnosis of disability to a family is a priority task, and therefore calls for adequate time to be allocated, along with good planning.

5.2 All staff members who may come in contact with the family liaise to ensure that no conflicting information is presented to the family and that all members have the same picture of what has already been told to the parents, to ensure that families are not inadvertently told new information without adequate preparation.

5.3 Staff members share information, so that parents do not have to give the same history or information to many different people.

5.4  As family circumstances vary, the team share information on how best to facilitate each family.

5.5  Care is taken at staff shift changeover times to alert staff members coming on duty that a family has been given the news of their child’s disability.

5.6 A liaison person is assigned to the family to provide support and information from the time of diagnosis until such time as the family are transitioned into appropriate early intervention services. Some of the key aspects of the liaison person’s role include:

  • Providing a single point of contact for the family
  • Providing information to the family on entitlements and benefits, and services and supports available
  • Providing assistance with paperwork and applications for services if required
  • Ensuring that an ‘Informing Families’ checklist is completed and that all tasks relating to best practice in the disclosure process are carried out
  • Providing a central point of contact to support services and organisations for the supply of up to date information to the interdisciplinary team.
  • Providing a co-ordinating role within the interdisciplinary team, to ensure that information is shared and that coherent communication takes place with the family, including, if necessary, team conferences with the family.
  • The liaison person should have appropriate training to understand the needs of parents of children with disabilities.
  • The liaison person will have a key role in disseminating best practice guidelines for informing families of their child’s disability. 

5.7  Written information is provided between professionals when referring on, detailing what parents have already been told, so that parents are not inadvertently given significant news without adequate preparation. Written information back to the referring party is also provided, to keep all parties up to date on the child’s diagnosis; this needs to be sent to the parents, the GP (with parent’s consent) and the referring party. Information is also written on the child’s chart in the hospital setting, to ensure all team members are kept up to date

5.8  Birth Notification to the Public Health Nurse includes information about how the family has received the news of their child’s disability. 

5.9  Preparation and planning at a local level is required to ensure the availability of private settings in which to communicate the news; to ensure that staff members have available accurate, up to date, relevant written material for supply to parents; and to plan the team communication and response that should take place when a child is diagnosed with a disability.  

Click here to continue to the next section of the Guidelines - Training, Education and Support for Professionals 

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  • Informing Families Project, National Federation of Voluntary Bodies,  Oranmore Business Park,  Oranmore, Galway
  • Phone: +353 (091) 792316
  • Fax: +353 (091) 792317
  • Email: info@informingfamilies.ie
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