Community staff will be showcasing their service globally when they represent Walsall Healthcare NHS Trust at a European conference this week.
Multi-agency representatives from the Team Around the Child (TAC) service – part of the Trust’s Community Services – are visiting the Czech Republic as keynote speakers at the Team Around the Child two-day conference.
A TAC is for children and families who might need extra support from professionals to achieve expected standards of health, education, development or welfare.
Four colleagues – Speech and Language Therapy Service Manager Liz Wassall, Head of Service for North Star Inclusion Advisory Team Becky Hadley, Health Visitor Disabilities Andrea Tipper and Paediatric Physiotherapy Team Lead Becky Logan – will be presenting.
Liz will talk to a mixed audience of up to 300 including three ministries – education, health and social care – as well as parents of children with disabilities about how they have established this model of working in Walsall and participate in panels.
The two Beckys will conduct a panel discussion on inter-partnership working and the model itself, which focuses on children of pre-school age with Specialist Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) and Andrea is talking to parents about dealing with the challenges of having a disabled child.
Delegates are flying in from Germany and Portugal and wider Europe and the event – which is entirely funded by the children’s education charity Educo – will also be live streamed so it can be watched from all over the continent.
Liz said: “The purpose is to inform our colleagues about the TAC model, which we’ve run successfully in Walsall now for over 20 years, and because it’s being live streamed, hopefully we will have a wider audience.
“We want delegates to be confident and comfortable setting up their own Team Around the Child model, and for us to come back with ideas about how we can continue to improve our model of working.”
Walsall’s TAC has been asked to speak because the team believes it offers a unique service.
“In other areas, a ‘team around the family’ service is offered, but here we do it from the point of referral to the transition,” added Liz. “It’s truly holistic care.
“We deal with all the different partner agencies, including using therapies and other specialist services, whereas another area might only deal with health and education.
“We also have lots of documentation we’ve developed together so we share the same toolkit, which is unique, and we have different panels we all devote time to, to help us plan and discuss children’s needs.
“It’s the structures we’ve set up and the systems we’ve got in place that keep us glued together.”
There are networking events in the evenings which are also handy for making contacts too, as Liz explains.
“The last time we were there, their equivalent of the Social Care Minister was at the meal, so they do place a huge value on this work there.”
Liz believes their model can be replicated across Europe – and also extended closer to home too.
“We’re trying to extend it into schools, because we know families value the model of working – they feel very included,” she added.
“This is something really positive to celebrate Community Services and show what we do.
“We want to make everyone aware we are here and that this is what we do. We welcome people to come and use the service.”
Walsall’s TAC is clearly in demand, as Andrea is actually double booked, so has had to pre-record a similar speech entitled Progressing your Multi-Agency Children’s Complex Needs Pathways to be shown at an online conference in this country hosted by SBK, a healthcare organisation focusing on national training around disability and life limiting conditions.