There are two keys to a successful SchoolKit Clinic. The first is establishing a shared understanding of what the clinic is about, between the family, school, health team and other parties involved (i.e. its foundation principles, aims and purpose, and processes). The second is working together in a consistent and collaborative manner.
In developing a SchoolKit Clinic, it is important that the clinic leaders have a shared culture of clarity, which will flow on to all those attending and participating in the clinic. Developing a strong relationship between school and health professionals, and their shared commitment to clinic goals and processes, are essential in establishing any new SchoolKit Clinic.
SchoolKit Clinic goals and processes can be conveyed to all participating parties in a number of ways. In the referral and engagement phase prior to the clinic the family, and other invited participants can be given information both verbally and, where possible, in writing (for example, in fact sheets, brochures or letters).
Additionally, as part of commencing each new clinic, the chair outlines the clinic’s goals to all present. At this time the chair may also emphasise the need for flexibility, patience and an open-minded attitude.
It may also be worth stating that during a clinic it often becomes apparent that issues are not going to be ‘solved’ outright, but that within the group a better way of dealing with things can often be found. All such advances should be acknowledged and applauded.
At the conclusion of each clinic the chair seeks each participant’s feedback. This creates the opportunity to open up discussion about any unmet issues and options for proactively addressing these (sometimes this can be done at the time, sometimes it needs to happen outside the clinic).
In some circumstances, despite such processes a participant in a clinic may continue to have concerns that their needs were unmet or their voice was not heard. For example, parents or carers may feel that the clinic did not go in a direction that they liked. Teachers or school staff may feel a sense of guilt, or frustration that some portion of blame has been levelled at them. Members of the health team may feel that the diagnosis and assessment process has been inadequate or prone to error.
A culture which establishes realistic expectations at the outset and invites connection and communication back to the school or health team, as well as within and between those teams, will facilitate such issues being addressed most openly and helpfully so that they do not become barriers to the implementation of strategies for improving the health and wellbeing of a vulnerable child or young person.