Top Ten Tips to prepare for meetings with education, health and social care settings:
1) Ask that any reports that are going to be discussed are shared with you in advance of any meetings to give you enough time to understand what is being said about you and your child, to highlight any inaccuracies and information you are unsure about. Good practice would mean reports should be available to you at least 48 hours before the meeting.
2) Write your own agenda of things to be discussed, take this list with you to the meeting.
3) Take a pad and pen and write down the date, time and location of the meeting and who is present and what their role/position is. Write down the actions you have agreed to carry out and any actions other people have agreed to carry out.
4) If you want to record the meeting on your mobile phone or a dictaphone you should seek the permission of those who will be present at the meeting and keep the recording out of the public domain. For more information click here.
5) It can be difficult to take notes and remain engaged in the conversation additionally, it can be hard due to the emotional response of the issues being discussed. If you are able it always helps to take a friend, relative or advocate along to support you and who can take notes for you.
6) Follow up any agreed actions or any concerns you are left with in writing and send via email on the same day of the meeting whenever possible. Try and ensure you have the email address of the person you wish it to reach; if this cannot be done send to the admin team of their organisation and ask them to pass onto the named person and request a confirmation email to show this has been forwarded to them.
*All solicitors will tell you a paper trail is vital should you need to evidence any issues you or your child has been facing. We all like to believe that the professionals will do their best and do what they say but we are all to aware that this is sadly not always the case. Get as much information in writing as possible.
7) Keep a folder for all of the notes and emails and keep this somewhere safe. Over the years try to keep all medical, social, and educational documents stored safely. This can be very useful in the long term should you need to highlight changes to needs, changes of behaviour etc and will ensure you have the evidence if needed.
8)If you have several appointments you need to attend with your child or young person it can be difficult to recall these. Try to keep a yearly diary of these meetings- listing date, location and purpose of meeting/appointment again as long term this can be a helpful record to have.
9) Stay calm and remain focused on what your child and you need. If you feel intimidated or confused by a professionals opinion seek a second opinion or request a change of worker. You are within your rights to request this.
10) Look after yourself and reach out to others for support when you feel alone or overwhelmed by difficult meetings…always remember and be confident that you are you child’s best advocate and you cannot pour from an empty cup.
Parents are often told that they are unable to record their interactions with professionals , but is this backed up by published policies?
The Information Commissioner regards the content of a meeting to be the personal data of the subject of the meeting rather than that of those in attendance at the meeting.
The Data Protection Act 1998 does not apply to individuals recording data for their own personal or family use.
The Care and Quality Commission has published guidance on using overt and covert recording and states that it would be unacceptable for someone to refuse to treat someone because they’re being recorded.
The Harassment Act 1997 states that it is an act of harassment for any person to pursue a course of conduct to persuade a person not to do something which they are entitled to do.