Last week we heard from parent campaigner Graham about what it’s like to Chair a local CHSWG meeting. Now our Regional Director for the East of England, Gary Nethercott, discusses how important it is to have parent representatives at local meetings.
Your Local Children’s Hearing Services Working Group (CHSWG) Needs You and I’m not kidding!
1. What is the strange thing called a CHSWG?
The local CHSWG brings together all the representatives from the services that support deaf children and their families and crucially should have parents on them. It meets around three times a year.
2. What is it all about?
It`s “Ronseal” test should be to improve the services to deaf children, young people and their families in their area.
3. What sort of things do they discuss?
How services are currently meeting deaf children, young people and families needs and what has to be done to improve things.
4. Are things changing?
Yes and no. CHSWGs are continuing but the government have changed the quality assurance system it is using so it just stops at the screening and does not cover the other services like it did in the past.
Therefore it is more crucial than ever that services get direct feedback from parents on what it is like for them and how things can be improved.
5. Are they effective?
They certainly can be. By getting the services to listen to parent`s views and experiences it can significantly aid improvement in co-ordination and delivery of services. If the parent’s voice is not present it limits the outcomes.
6. Why should parents attend?
Quite simply as it changes the culture of the meeting when they do.
When parents are present services have to reflect on the actual reality of the experience of receiving their services from a child’s, young person and parents view point. If that voice is not there it can sometimes default into a discussion on the issues for services themselves.
7. Do I have to speak on every issue?
No. Your contribution is valued on every issue but you choose when to contribute.
8. Can more than one parent attend?
Definitely, all of us have different perspectives and experiences on issues so it can help to have more than one parent present but just one parent voice adds value.
9. Will I make a difference?
You bet. It is very difficult for any service to refute the experience being described and it really can help services to understand the reality of what their service feels like to be received. It helps all services to see the gaps and co-ordinate better. Also, importantly it is a crucial part of making services focus on outcomes and increases accountability.
10. What do I need to bring?
Time, along with your views and experiences. If other parents have told you their opinions you can represent them as well.
11. How can you get involved?
There are CHWSG meetings held in all areas across the UK please contact the NDCS Helpline to find out if there is a local CHSWG in your area.