URGENT: NEW Devon CCG restricting deaf young adults to just one hearing aid!

Liz Partridge, Campaigns Manager

Liz Partridge, Campaigns Manager

NEW Devon Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) has recently made an extremely concerning decision to restrict deaf adults (18 yrs and upwards) to just one hearing aid, meaning they will no longer pay for a second hearing aid for deaf young adults with bilateral hearing loss.

Not only is this decision shocking because of the potential impact it will have on deaf young adults but we also believe this decision has been taken without a full consultation with those the decision will impact on. We are working hard to seek a reversal of this decision, and we hope you can help.

Take action!
If you live in Devon, I urge you to complain to NEW Devon CCG about this. Please note this CCG does commission services in most areas in Devon, but if you live in some parts of South Devon you may want to double check which CCG provides services in your area before complaining. NEW Devon CCG does include both Plymouth and Exeter.

You can email your complaint to: pals.devon@nhs.net or complaints.devon@nhs.net , telephone on 01392 267 665 or 0300 123 1672 or text them for a call back on: 07789 741 099.
You may wish to include the following points in your complaint:
• Reverse this decision immediately
• This decision will have a severe impact on young adults at a critical time in their life when an emphasis should be placed on maximising hearing so that deaf young adults are able to fully access further education and/or early working life.
• I am aware that one of your equality objectives states that you will produce an Equality Impact Assessment (EIA) for all changes to new policies and you have said they will publish an EIA within or next to the relevant document on their website. However I cannot find evidence of this EIA. Please can you publish this information immediately as I want to know that deaf young people were properly consulted before this decision was made.

Please do also include your own personal stories as well, if applicable.

When you receive a response please forward it to us at: campaigns@ndcs.org.uk

You could also contact your MP about this issue and ask them to contact NEW Devon CCG about their decision. You can find out who your MP is here: http://www.theyworkforyou.com/mps/

We are currently in talks with the CCG and have already achieved some media coverage. We will provide further updates shortly.

We need to take action now to put pressure on the CCG to reverse this shocking decision!

Listen Up! campaign update. Email your health commissioner now!

Liz Partridge, Campaigns Manager

Liz Partridge, Campaigns Manager

Email your health commissioner now and ask them to tell you what they are doing to ensure your child’s audiology service is good quality!

A couple of months ago we launched our Listen Up! campaign in response to an NHS report that revealed that one-third of children’s audiology services failed deaf children. We called on you to take action and email your MP to ask them what they were going to do to help ensure that all deaf children receive a good quality audiology service.

I would like to say a massive thank you to the many of you that took action. As a result of your action we secured a meeting with the Health Minister Dr Daniel Poulter and he has agreed to investigate further.

However our work is not done! It is important we continue to take action because we know that one-third of children’s audiology services failed deaf children and despite this the Government stopped inspecting these services. This means we have a very little idea of how children’s audiology services are doing now, leaving many families in the dark about how good or bad their child’s audiology service is.

Listen Up! campaign logo

So we need to keep the momentum going – please take action now and email your local health commissioner to find out more about the quality of your child’s audiology service.

You can also find out more about the campaign and don’t forget you can join our Campaigns Network to be kept regularly up-to-date!

Further updates will be coming your way soon so please keep an eye out and continue to take action to ensure all deaf children and young people receive a good quality audiology service.

Thank you.

What deaf children need from SEN reform #5: Regional commissioning

NDCS - Ian Noon, Head of Policy and Research

Ian Noon, Head of Policy and Research

We’ve been blogging all week about SEN reform and the key things that local authorities in England need to do to make sure it delivers for deaf children. The 5th and final issue we want to see action on is: regional commissioning and working together across local authorities to improve services.

Regional commissioning sounds like a very geeky policy thing. But it’s also something really important for services for deaf children. We all know that deafness is a low incidence disability, compared to other conditions. Deaf children have a habit of popping up randomly all over the place. Deaf children are also a remarkably diverse bunch. Some are oral, some use sign language. Some wear hearing aids, some wear cochlear implants. Some come from families where English is an additional language. Others have additional complex needs. In short, we’re complicated.

The question is: why would any local authority try or even attempt to meet these diverse needs all by themselves? Wouldn’t it make more sense for them to work together across local authorities and pool resources? It’s certainly led to better economies of scale – an important consideration in these times of austerity and spending cuts.

Even though it’s common sense and even though new guidance from the Department for Education highlights the value of regional commissioning, there are still very few examples of local authorities pooling resources and working together for the benefit of deaf children. Until they do , there’s a real risk that all the  changes to the special educational needs system will come to nothing.

NDCSNursary-32

You know the drill by now. We want local authorities to take action on this and the other 4 key issues we’ve been highlighting all week. You can help us by emailing our campaign briefing – that we’ve produced with Blind Children UK, RNIB and Sense – to local authorities and asking to act on it. Our website makes it simple and straightforward for you to take action and make local authorities take note. You can also join our campaigns network for the latest on our campaign actions.

Have you enjoyed our week of blogs on SEN reform? Obviously, SEN reform is not just for Christmas so this is going to be a topic which will stay on our minds for a long time. And the five issues we’ve picked out are just the start. It’s a period of big risks but also opportunities too. We’ll be keeping an eye on what local authorities are up to and keeping you updated on things you can do to help. We’re all determined to make sure deaf children benefit from these changes and, importantly, get the support they need.

If you’ve got any questions about SEN reform and what it might mean for deaf children, our website – www.ndcs.org.uk/sen – has lots more information. Or you can have your say by leaving a comment below.

What deaf children need from SEN reform #4: Better assessments

NDCS - Ian Noon, Head of Policy and Research

Ian Noon, Head of Policy and Research

We’re on day 4 of our special week of blogs on special educational needs reform and what needs to happen if implementation is going to be a success for deaf children. Today, we’re highlighting the need for better assessments of deaf children’s needs.

Another positive of the big changes is the Government has really emphasised the importance of high quality assessments. In the classroom, assessments are seen as the bedrock of SEN support. All teachers are now meant to follow a cycle called “assess, plan, do review” when working with children with SEN.

And if children need more support, through an Education, Health and Care Plan, then a full and rigorous assessment to identify children’s strengths and weaknesses and where support is needed, is highlighted as vital.

This is an area we’re keeping a close eye on as some of the earlier Plans that we saw in the pilot were not great, to put it mildly. I saw a few that were vague on the child’s needs. I came to call them “fluffy happy-smiley” documents. Information about the child’s likes and dislikes are important – but not at the cost of detailed information about their abilities, strengths and weaknesses.

NDCS. Deaf children at Hacton primary school in Hornchurch, Essex, in class with othed deaf children and also hearing children, being helped by signing assistant and teachers with sound field mic's and visula aids.

Happily, there are lots of great resources that professionals can use to make sure assessments are high quality. Top of the list is a resource developed by the National Sensory Impairment Partnership called Better Assessments, Better Outcomes, Better Plans, which outlines all the questions that should be considered when carrying out assessments. Our new campaign briefing for local authorities, co-produced with Blind Children UK, RNIB and Sense, highlights this resource and others.

You can help us make sure that local authorities follow best practice on this and other issues by taking part in our new campaign action. We’re asking our campaigners to take action and forward our campaign briefing to local authorities. If you haven’t already, pop to our website for an easy thingybob that works out who to contact in your local authority, making it easy to get in touch and ask them what steps they’re going to take to make sure deaf children benefit from these reforms. You can also join our campaigns network for the latest on our campaign actions.

Our week of SEN reform blogging comes to an end, tomorrow, sadly. Tune in again for tomorrow for what the 5th key issue on SEN reform and deaf children is.

What deaf children need from SEN reform #3: The Local Offer

NDCS - Ian Noon, Head of Policy and Research

Ian Noon, Head of Policy and Research

Has your local authority made you an offer yet? Under the big changes to the SEN system, which we’re blogging about all week, each local authority in England is now required to produce a ‘Local Offer’  of the provision it expects to be available for children with special educational needs and disabilities in their area.

There’s been a lot of rhetoric from the Government about what the Local Offer is not. For example, it’s not meant to be a directory of services. Or a kind of SEN Yellow Pages. Instead, it’s meant to be a process whereby the local authority reviews how good its provision is, in consultation with families, and then improves it. In other words, the Local Offer is meant to lead to a virtuous cycle of better support.

The Local Offer has the potential to be something really positive. Many families have told us over the years that they have struggled to find relevant information about support for their child. If the Local Offer can make that a thing of the past, all the better.

Unfortunately, there is a but. The Local Offer will only deliver for deaf children if it includes specific information about support for deaf children which is easy to find. Again, our worry is that deafness will be lumped together with other needs and disabilities and that the Local Offer only ends up containing very generic information.

Alfie _7_

Our campaign briefing with Blind Children UK, RNIB and Sense calls on local authorities to make sure this doesn’t happen. It also signposts to a number of key resources such as advice from the National Deaf Children’s Society on what we think should go in the Local Offer if it’s going to be relevant to deaf children. Take part in our new campaign action to help make sure that local authorities act on our advice and come up with a good Local Offer for deaf children.

What deaf children need from SEN reform #2: More participation

NDCS - Ian Noon, Head of Policy and Research

Ian Noon, Head of Policy and Research

Yesterday, we kicked off a week of blogs about special educational needs (SEN) reform. All of these changes came into effect in England yesterday via part 3 of the Children and Families Act 2014 which sets out all the key changes. And one of the biggest and most positive changes is section 19 where there’s now a clear legal requirement for local authorities to take into account the views of children, young people and their families, involve them in decisions about their SEN support and support them in doing so.

And so our 2nd key issue for local authorities to consider when implementing changes to the special educational needs system is how they’re going to consult with and involve deaf children and young people and their families in decisions about local SEN provision.

One of our biggest worries is that lots of local authorities will treat ‘SEN’ as it were a single entity when we all know that the needs of a deaf child are very different to, for example, a child with autism. And because deafness is a ‘low incidence’ need and the so-called ‘invisible disability’, there is a risk that the needs of deaf children might get overlooked. That’s why we’re calling on local authorities to make sure they seek out and have specific regard for the views of deaf children, young people and their families, making sure that any such consultation and involvement is accessible and meaningful.

DSC_0105

Families with deaf children can also help make this happen by making sure they’re at the table when consultation events take place. There are lots of different ways that families can get involved. They can ask to join the local Parent Carer Forum. They can check if there is a Children’s Hearing Services Working Group (CHSWG) in their area and find out who is representing them on this group. They can see if their local Deaf Children’s Society is involved. They can also just get in touch with the local authority and ask about opportunities to get involved.

In partnership with Blind Children UK, RNIB and Sense, we’ve produced a campaign briefing for local authorities that sets out some tips for how they can make consultation, involvement and participation with deaf children, young people and their families a reality. You can help make sure this lands on the desks of the right people in each local authority by taking part in our new campaign action – as always, our website makes it simple and straightforward to take action.

Tomorrow, we’ll be talking about another big change – the Local Offer – and setting out what this might mean for deaf children.

What deaf children need from SEN reform #1: Better data

NDCS - Ian Noon, Head of Policy and Research

Ian Noon, Head of Policy and Research

Good news everyone! Christmas has come early… if you’re a policy geek like me. Yes, today is the day that (nearly) all of the big long-awaited changes to the special educational needs system in England come into force.

After years and months of debating the policy and the draft laws, the focus now shifts to implementation. Regardless of what we think about the changes, we want to make sure that deaf children benefit from them or at least aren’t disadvantaged by them.

With that in mind, we at the National Deaf Children’s Society have worked with our friends and allies at Blind Children UK, RNIB and Sense to produce a campaign briefing setting out five key issues where we think action is needed to make sure SEN reform implementation works for the children we work with. For each day this week, I’ll be blogging about each of those five issues (see, I said Christmas had come early).

14020 (d) and Leithisiya Lakshmisriranjan (d)The first key issue is: data. We need better data on deaf children, how many there are, where they live, what their needs are and how well they’re doing. Government cannot hope to meet the special educational needs of deaf children if it doesn’t know how many there are – yet that’s the situation we’re in now. Existing data-sets are incomplete, even by the Government’s own admission. According to the Department for Education, there are just 17,000 deaf children across England. Local authorities tell us the figure is actually more like 38,000 – but, in many areas we know that’s still not the full story. For example, many local authorities tell us that they don’t collect data on deaf young people over the age of 16 who are in education or training.

We want local authorities to get better at collecting data on deaf children so that they can use it to make proper decisions on what services are needed. We also want better data so that we can see how well local authorities are doing in supporting deaf children to achieve their potential. And we want the Government to make sure that this all happens.

If you agree, help us improve things. We’re launching a new campaign action today to ask local authorities to take action on each of the five key issues we’ve identified.

Check out our blog tomorrow for more information on our 2nd key issue on effective participation. In the meantime, you can get loads more information about SEN reform and what the changes might mean for deaf children on the NDCS website at www.ndcs.org.uk/sen.