Providing resources and information to clients
How do you provide resources and information to clients in relation to actions to be taken?
In providing a service to clients, it is very important to provide them with as much information as necessary to involve them in all the decisions that are being made at every stage of the support process.
When you are planning with clients, it is important to give them information concerning:
- The initial assessment of their needs. Use ordinary language that the family can understand; avoid using jargon.
- The options normally available to meet these needs, e.g. the types of programs or services available.
- The expectations on the client regarding these options.
- Information about the implications of each option, i.e. the process and legal issues, the practical steps required.
- Information about options which will not be considered and why.
Remember that you may need to provide information in a range of ways. Some people prefer information given verbally, while others need to be able to read the information. Sometimes a combination of verbal and written information gives people a better chance of understanding it.
Check that the client and significant others understand what you have said or the written material you have provided. Some people may need assistance through an interpreter. Also, when people are anxious they do not always remember what has been said to them. You may need to check understanding and repeat information where necessary.
Think about where you provide information to clients and significant others. Options include your office, the family home or a neutral location such as a local community centre.
In choosing a location, think about these checklist points.
- The purpose of the meeting and what you need to discuss
- Which location would improve discussion while maintaining privacy
- What would help the client or significant others feel more comfortable
- Which location is most convenient or is suitable for people with special or additional needs.
Involving children in decision-making
The involvement of children in decision-making should be considered in line with their age, development and protection. Think about involvement broadly. How can this child/young person be involved? Do not think in terms of whether a child is old enough to participate in a meeting with significant others present. You may need to talk with the child and establish their views and present them to the meeting on behalf of the child.
Under the Child Protection Act 1999 the child’s right to participate in decisions about his/her life are enshrined in legislation. Hence for all children in care, agencies must fulfil their obligation to engage these children in decision-making processes concerning their lives.
Where possible, children need to be kept informed about what is going on and given the chance to express their opinions, feelings and ideas. Children pick up on the feelings and events happening around them. Take the time to monitor how they are feeling and help them feel included.
The same consideration needs to be extended to young people. They have a right to be involved in decisions affecting them; this helps them regain a sense of control over their lives during a time of crisis and anxiety.
Child protection and the parents
How do I decide when to exclude parents from decision-making in the case of child protection?
Sometimes in serious situations of abuse or neglect Department of Child Safety officers may consider it inappropriate to involve parents in discussions about the type of intervention. This might include situations where the:
- safety of the child/young person may be affected or at risk
- safety of workers involved may be threatened
- parents are unable to participate due to current and significant substance abuse
- psychiatric illness of one or both parents limits decision-making capacity.
These parents are still entitled to information about decisions that are made and involvement in other decisions about their child where possible.
Regardless of your client’s situation it is often a requirement that formal meetings are set up for planning and decision-making. Formal meetings are an important way of:
- drawing together information obtained from the various discussions you have had with clients and other sources
- bringing together the range of people who have significant involvement with the client and ensuring that everybody hears the same information
- being clear about what needs to happen and how it will happen.
At the meeting you should ensure that:
- reasons for statutory or other intervention are clearly explained
- requirements of the clients and significant others are clearly explained
- views and responses of clients are recorded
- clients are encouraged to participate as much as possible in their planning
- options for meeting the needs identified are discussed and recorded
- all decisions and the reasons for decisions are recorded.
In some cases it is vital that a plan be developed and recorded as a statement of agreement between you, your agency, your client and significant others.