Preparing for adulthood - operational strategy
For many years we have offered wide-ranging support to young people with additional needs as they prepare for adult life (often known as transition planning).
The operational strategy
This support is based on having a plan of action which sets out what needs to be done to make sure that good transition planning can take place. This is called an operational strategy, and describes how we use our resources in order to support transition planning goals.
Since the introduction of the Children and Families Act 2014, a great deal of work has been carried out to ensure that the operational strategy is ‘fit for purpose’
This means that it needs to be able to deliver the four adult outcomes set out in the Act: good health, finding a job, finding somewhere to live and community inclusion.
To do this effectively the operational strategy needs to reflect the views of all young people with additional needs and their parents (called co-production) and ensure that each young person is treated as an individual (called person centred planning).
This needs to be done in an easy to understand way which includes a wide variety of young people who all have the same common need for support as they move into adult life.
The main aim of the transition planning process which the operational strategy supports is to build greater adult independence for all young people with additional needs through the delivery of the four outcomes listed above.
By doing this, we aim to support every young person to get a life rather than preparing them for dependency on adult social care.
For those young people who will require more support from either health or social care services it is important to recognise that, wherever possible, this support will come from ensuring that ‘reasonable adjustments’ are sought to existing ‘universal services’ (that is services generally available to everyone), to make them accessible to young people with additional needs, rather than offering specialist provision as a first option.
Where needs cannot be met through ‘universal services’, targeted (more specialised) services will be considered. When doing so we will make sure that specialist providers of those services demonstrate that the services they offer are structured around meeting one or all of the four adult outcomes.
Set out below are the four key areas that make up the operational strategy, including the names of the professionals who are responsible for delivering that support.
The key areas of Norfolk’s strategic support
Transition, which is the common term used to describe the journey from childhood to adulthood for young people with special educational needs and or disabilities, care leavers and young carers, begins in Year 9 and continues up to the age of 25.
This is often a time of great concern to young people and their parent/carers and so it is important to ensure that transitional arrangements across Norfolk help reduce anxiety by offering a clear and timely pathway.
Norfolk’s strategic support is focused on four key interlinked (joined up) areas which help move young people along that pathway by providing certainty in the support which is offered in preparing them for adult life.
We have in place a system which identifies all young people with additional needs aged 14+ who may require support as they move into adult life.
At the core of the data (information) are two lists: one for all young people aged 14+ who have an Education, Health and Care (EHC) plan, and one for 18-25 year olds who have an EHC plan.
Added to these lists are the names of other young people and young adults who do not hold an EHC plan but may nevertheless require support in preparing for adult life. These could be: care leavers, young carers, young people where the EHC plan has been ceased and those with SEN support needs but who do not have an EHC plan.
This data helps to ensure that young people do not ‘fall through the net’ and allows for their progress along the transition pathway to be monitored (followed) so that timely interventions (support) are made when required.
The data also helps to inform commissioners (the people responsible for making sure the right kind of support is available) of what is needed and who it is needed for (called trends). This includes the kind of targeted support that young adults may require to meet their adult outcomes.
This objective begins by ensuring that young people and their parents/carers have good information in order for them to understand and play a full and central role in the transition planning process.
To this end, the following information has been produced and is distributed annually to special schools and through the mainstream schools SENCO (Special Educational Needs Coordinator) network:
- Essential Users Guide to Preparing for Adult Life
- Young Person’s Guide to Transition Planning – an easy read to the above
- Transition Providers Directory – a guide to organisations that offer services to transition-age clients
- Transition Passport- a document in which young people can record their hopes dreams and aspirations for adult life
- Your Transition Journey – an easy read version of Norfolk’s Transition Protocol - a guide to the professional support available in transition planning (currently in draft form and awaiting distribution)
Information is also uploaded (put on) onto the designated ‘Preparing for Adult Life webpages of the ‘Local Offer’ and is available at a number of regular parent events hosted by schools and day service providers and attended by the county transition lead.
Information is also made available via conferences, such as the Family Voice annual conference, the SENCO annual conference and the complex needs schools annual transition event.
The transition lead also offers workshops to parents at these events which cover a range of transition related topics.
There is also a Transition Facebook account where information updates are regularly posted.
This year a Transition Steering Group is being set up to encourage young people their parent/carers and professionals to promote and monitor the four key areas of the Operational Strategy.
The county transition lead is also in direct contact with young people and the parent/carers to advice on the Operational Strategy.
Customer satisfaction questionnaires will also invite feedback from those young people and their parent/carers about their experience of the transition process and the usefulness of the information provided with a view to making any necessary changes and improvements.
Who is responsible for making sure that young people and their parent/carers are fully involved in the transition process?
We employ a county transition lead to work across both Children’s and Adult Services, as well as our partners in education and health, to make sure that the right transition planning information is in place.
The county transition lead is also responsible for producing the Operational Strategy and for making sure that it is working.
In order for transition planning to operate effectively it is important to have a joined-up multi-agency approach so that all professionals (people whose job it is to help) are aware of their statutory (legal) roles and responsibilities.
This enables both professionals, young people and their parent/carers to know what help to expect, at what time, and by whom.
Harmonizing (bringing together) support through good partnership working practices directed by legislation (the law) and national frameworks (ways of working written by organisations like the Health Service) will ensure a consistent (regular) and predictable (know what is going to happen) approach to transition planning across the county.
To this end a protocol has been produced:
- Norfolk’s Transition Protocol - Principles of Practice
- Working Together: Navigating Professional Pathways in Preparing Young People for Adult Life
- Your Transition Journey –an easy read guide to the Norfolk Transition Protocol
Along with an accompanying adult referral pathway entitled Transition Pathway for Young People with Additional Needs.
‘Working Together…’ is a partnership building document which is divided into three sections: Education, Health and Social Care and also includes flow charts and other supporting information.
When adopted (agreed) by all agencies, this protocol will form the basis of a training package for all professionals. This will go alongside a newly developed SEND general awareness training package.
Both training packages will also be available to young people and their parent/carers.
Who is responsible for making sure that professional help is coordinated (brought together)?
The county transition lead is responsible for ensuring that all professionals understand the role they play in transition planning and that they are working together.
The county transition lead also offers support in transition planning to all professional social care locality teams and all professionals involved with the transition process-including education health and care plan co-ordinators.
This is done by both visiting the teams in their localities (areas where they work) and by advising on individual cases.
The county transition lead also plays a role in delivering the training packages.
The Children and Families Act 2014 makes very clear how important it is for us to deliver the four adult outcomes: good health, finding a job, finding somewhere to live and community inclusion.
To promote those goals a ‘shared vision’ (a clear idea of what we all want to achieve for young people with additional needs), is currently in draft form entitled:
It has been produced as a starting point for consultation with young people and their parent/carers and has the following working definition:
“To enable young people with learning difficulties and/or disabilities, including mental ill-health, to live the full and meaningful lives they want to by having the same access as their peers to: good health, housing and employment options and community services as their peers”
The shared vision is a very important part of the operational strategy as sets out how what we need to do to achieve the four adult outcomes.
This will include both a review of existing social care services, including ‘Short Breaks’ and adult social care providers, which will be undertaken by commissioners, the county transition lead and a group of young adult service users to see how they currently reflect the four adult outcomes at the core of the shared vision.
The review will also help to inform future joint commissioning across services to reflect any identified trends and possible future demands on both universal and specialist services.
Who will make sure that we have the right services in place to deliver the four adult outcomes?
The county transition lead will work with young people, their parent carers, commissioners and providers of services to ensure that the right support in preparing for adult life is in place.
This will include supporting the development of joint commissioning across social care so that all specialist services, wherever possible, are registered to support young people from the age of 16 and through to 25.
The county transition lead will also promote the need for universal services to be the main route to support and to be inclusive of all young people with additional needs including those with SEN support and vulnerable young adults who do not have an EHC plan or SEN support needs either because they did not qualify or because their plan has ceased for whatever reason.
The county transition lead will make sure that all new council policies which include young people with additional needs have transition planning support embedded in them.
Transition workers are placed in each of the three Children with Disabilities Teams across the county to offer support to qualifying children during their transfer to Adult Services.
Transition link workers based in each of the five Adult Learning Disabilities teams across the county work closely with Children’s Services colleagues throughout the transition planning process.
Specialist learning disability health professionals located in the Adult Learning Disability teams offer a range of health advice and support.
Adult mental health social care teams have social workers who support young adults with a mental health diagnosis with transition planning. This includes working with their colleagues in the Adult Learning Disability Service.
Community Teams supporting young adults with physical disabilities all have transition champions.
Providers of specialist day services also have specialist transition workers.
The ‘Local Offer’ has more information on Preparing for Adult Life.