We need a little more clarity… honesty even!

Title of post

The second paragraph of every single independent speech, language and communication report I write includes a ‘statement of truth’.

Every independent professional will include a ‘statement of truth’ in their reports.

Essentially, the ‘statement of truth’ is my promise that I write about the child’s communication needs to help the special educational needs & disability process. It is also a promise that I will not be unduly influenced by whoever pays for the report (i.e. the child’s parents).

I write about the person and their communication needs. I think carefully about what support the person needs to learn, thrive, and function socially, emotionally and communicatively. I base my recommendations on evidence I gather about the person and the evidence base developed by my profession. I try to be fair on services in my opinions.

Most independent practitioners take the ‘statement of truth‘ very seriously because clinical impartiality is a the core of our reputation.

However….

Evidence from independent practitioners is generally initially dismissed by Local Authorities because it is paid for by families. The underlying message is that evidence is wrongly influenced by the child’s parents, no matter how good and accurate it is. Eventually it gets included but it is an unnecessary battle.

Evidence is scrutinised by administrators who generally have little practical experience of what it is about so the likelihood of understanding the content is reduced. Some of the evidence is complex stuff so why would they necessarily understand? When the content is not understood, vital information is missed out in Education, Health and Care Plans.

Here’s the irony:

Evidence produced by local authority and NHS professionals DOES NOT include a statement of truth.

Most public sector employees have a duty to deliver care, free at the point of access. Services are underfunded so any therapy has to be shared between as many people as possible. As there is not enough to go around, only children who are most at risk can access help (also known as prioritisation).

The reports I have read from most professions are brief and focus on the child’s needs in relation to what is available from public service. My interpretation is that their evidence is influenced by ‘who has paid for the report’ (i.e. Local Authority or NHS). These reports are often used as evidence of need rather than evidence of service availability. We are talking about two very separate matters!

So here’s an idea:

What if everybody (public sector and independent practitioners) have to work from a ‘statement of truth’ even if we end up identifying support that is not commissioned properly for. A basic tenet should be that is all about the child’s needs, not what is funded.

If more services and families worked together rather than arguing over the service availability versus a child’s needs, there would be a sense of honesty in the process. Families might stop feeling undermined when they hear; “we just can’t do x” instead of being told “your child just doesn’t need x”.

And maybe these two forces should join up to fight for better services for all children rather than being pitted against each other.