The Difference it will make

The Family Centre will offer a vital sense of a supportive, understanding community, because as one mother told us:

“The community feel when you have a child with any kind of special educational need is vital because you don’t get that anywhere else.”

Family Partnership Approach in Action

The Wandsworth Hearing Support Service has adopted and developed the partnership approach for families with a deaf or deaf blind child, many of whom have profound learning difficulties and other complex disabilities. Within the Hearing Services the results have been outstanding:

  • 100% satisfaction from families regarding the service they receive
  • 100 staff trained in the family partnership model and putting families first
  • 40+ parents trained in how to support and engage in their own child’s learning and how to take active roles in co-creating services
  • Reduced stress in the workforce

The work has had wide recognition and been presented at Europe’s first Family Centred Intervention Conference for families of deaf children and The Ear Foundation International Conference 2012.

Our goal is to extend the partnership approach across the entire Sensory Support Service.

An essential element of pioneering this model for disabled children in London/the UK is to co locate all support services for families in a new modern facility – the Wandsworth Sensory Support Service Family Centre


Impact of Stress on Families

We know from our work that the stress on parents and families with on a child who is visually impaired or deaf, often alongside other complex disabilities is overwhelming. In 2011 the charity Contact a Family found that 72% of families with a disabled child experience mental ill health issues such as anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression or breakdown. This kind of stress in families can cause emotional trauma and delayed development in children.

Yet too often families have nowhere to go for support, their existing friendship networks fail them and professionals are ill equipped to help.

“It’s so isolating, you haven’t met people who are in the same boat.”

Research is now underway which will enable professionals to understand how best to support families. However this is still in its infancy and generally laboratory based. The Family Centre will provide a unique opportunity to build links between academic research and the community it will benefit.