Urgh! I have spent quite a few hours this weekend writing reports to be submitted as part of the EHCP process. I know this is a relatively new system, but I have been writing this type of report for over a decade now. I do know what I am doing! So why did I find it so frustrating?
Well I suppose some of my frustration was because I was writing them on a Saturday night – however that is down to my time management and working around family commitments! I work across 3 different counties. So far, each county wants my reports laid out differently, with slightly different information in. If it doesn’t fit their format, they might not consider my report. Only one of these counties bothers to ask me directly for information. For the others, parents have to submit my report as additional information and I have to chase to find out the submission date. Then in one county, I have basically been told that even if my report is submitted, it probably won’t be read or considered as I am an Independent Therapist.
That one makes me mad! What am I going to write as an “Independent Therapist” that is so bad? Why is my professional opinion rated lower, just because a school or parent is paying for my input? I am still professionally bound. In fact my information will truly state what a child needs and is not influenced by which budget it will have to come out off. ( I think that is the bit that causes problems!)
I make sure I have spoken with the parents and nursery/ school staff. I have assessed, observed and treated the child. I finally got the layouts and information in the correct order. I have submitted my report, in duplicate to the correct department. Yet I still run the risk of my report being discounted.
One of the other issues with the new EHCP system, is that it is much harder to predict which children will be accepted for assessment and which children won’t. Again there is a big variation across counties. I felt that I knew where I stood with statements and could relatively confidently work out which children would be assessed. However now, children I really didn’t think would be put forward, have been and others that so obviously need help have been turned down. Hopefully these issues will be resolved as each county works out the new processes.
Now, I do want to point out that I’m not frustrated with the case officers! I think they have a very difficult job and certainly not one I would want to do. My frustrations are with the bigger system.
My frustration isn’t just now that I am an independent therapist. There were just as many frustrations when I worked for the NHS. For example, statutory assessment notifications not being sent through or you received them 2 days before the deadline. Knowing that my report was submitted, but then being told it wasn’t received. Information from another professional who observed the child once being considered more valuable than your information from working weekly with the same child. The list goes on.
I can only guess at how confusing these systems are for parents trying to navigate them, especially if it is for the first time. Just remember that the many of the professionals working within them are just as confused and frustrated by the outcomes. I know, from personal experience, that the best outcomes are received when everyone works together. So lets try and help each other through it! Rant over….