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As a parent of a deafblind child with complex medical needs its important my son has the best start in life
Many Deafblind people are not known to their local social services authority. Of those who are in contact with social services, not all are identified as having dual sensory impairment nor are they in receipt of appropriate services. This applies to both adults and children.
Local Authorities are asked to take the following action as set out in more detail in the attached guidance:
- identify, make contact with and keep a record of Deafblind people in their catchment area (including those who have multiple disabilities including dual sensory impairment);
- ensure that when an assessment is required or requested, it is carried out by a specifically trained person/team, equipped to assess the needs of a Deafblind person - in particular to assess need for one-to-one human contact, assistive technology and rehabilitation;
- ensure services provided to Deafblind people are appropriate, recognising that they may not necessarily be able to benefit from mainstream services or those services aimed primarily at blind people or deaf people who are able to rely on their other senses;
- ensure that Deafblind people are able to access specifically trained one-to- one support workers if they are assessed as requiring one;
- provide information about services in formats and methods that are accessible to Deafblind people; and
- ensure that one member of senior management includes, within his/her responsibilities, overall responsibility for Deafblind services.
Status of the Guidance
The following Guidance is issued under Section 7(1) of the Local Authority Social Services Act 1970. This means that Local Authorities must follow it unless there are exceptional reasons not to do so.
Local Authorities are asked to identify, make contact with and keep a record of Deafblind people in their catchment area. In doing so they should be aware that many of those who are known to Local Authorities as having learning disabilities, multiple disabilities or problems associated with age, may also have dual sensory
impairment. Deafblind children should be included on the register of Disabled Children which Local Authorities are required to maintain under the Children Act 1989 (Schedule 2, paragraph 2).
For children, the early identification of difficulties and effective intervention to meet their needs is crucial to ensuring their health and well-being, and in helping them succeed in education. Councils should ensure that the identification of Deafblind children and early intervention to meet their needs is part of their strategy for securing childcare and education opportunities for children from the early years through to adulthood.
The Government recognises the importance of people having access to high quality information and advice, appropriate early interventions and being able to exercise choice and control over the services and support they need. Local Authorities with adult social services responsibilities should take a balanced approach to prevention and early intervention and deliver personalised services, enabling deafblind people to develop solutions that work for them
The Common Assessment Framework (CAF) for children and young people (Department for Children, Schools and Families 20084) http://www.everychildmatters.gov.uk/deliveringservices/caf/
process offers practitioners in all agencies the opportunity, together with children and their families, to identify possible (low level) additional needs, and the services which may be required to meet those needs, at an early stage. The CAF process can help bring practitioners and agencies together to provide better service provision, co- ordinated by a Lead Professional. Information gathered as part of the CAF process can be used to inform any specialist assessment, which may be required subsequently to meet needs that are more complex.
However, Deafblind children (many of whom will also have additional disabilities) will often have been under the care of local paediatric services since birth, although the full extent to their disability may not become apparent until later. They require follow- up by the child development team with access to specialist audiology and ophthalmology services. Local arrangements should ensure early referral for support to Local Authority children's social services and to voluntary organisations where relevant.
Deafblind children are considered as Children in Need under the Children Act 1989. It should be possible to identify Deafblind children on the Social Services Disability Register. The child and their family should be offered an assessment based on the Framework for the Assessment of Children in Need and their Families (Department of Health 20005) in order to determine what services it will be most appropriate to offer. Good quality assessments will encourage active partnerships between mainstream and specialist services working together to manage disabled children's inclusion in family life, education and community services ('Assessing Children in Need and their Families: Practice Guidance', Department of Health, the Stationery Office, 2000, London6). The Early Support programme provides a framework of multi-
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