The SchoolKit Clinic model, which started at Cairnsfoot School for Specific Purposes in partnership with the Kogarah Developmental Assessment Service, was used as the basis for a Metro-Regional Intellectual Disability Network pilot in other schools for specific purposes in South East Sydney Local Health District and Illawarra Shoalhaven Local Health District.

This successful pilot aimed to provide improved specialist multidisciplinary services for young people with intellectual disability and their carers in regional and rural New South Wales.

“I think the service you provide is fantastic, with the follow up appointments and everything.”
– Parent/Carer

Transition clinics – the style of school clinics that has shaped the model for SchoolKit Transition Clinics – were held in four special schools from 2010 to 2012. After clinics, parents, carers and school staff who had attended were asked to give their feedback by completing a survey so that responses to the clinics could be properly evaluated. These surveys included both quantitative and qualitative elements.

Of particular interest was feedback about the key elements of the post-school transition clinic. This clinic occurs in the final years of high school, is held at school, has a multidisciplinary and collaborative approach, and involves school staff.

Encouraging Feedback

Feedback received through the survey – from 33 parents and carers and 19 school staff – was very positive. Everyone agreed that having a meeting of all service providers in this stressful time of transition was essential. Overall, participants found the transition clinic useful, informative and a service that they could not have received elsewhere.

“I think it is a fantastic service and I have seen the positive effect it has on parents. It takes the stress out of the transition period.”
– School Staff Member

Most participants strongly agreed that involving school staff, particularly teachers who know the students well, was important to get a holistic picture of the young person, and in formulating a transition plan for post-school life. There were mixed opinions about whether having a large number of people in the room was stressful.

The feedback received confirmed that the clinics were useful for families and has also been used to improve the way the clinics are conducted. Because of the surveys care has been taken to limit the number of people in transition clinic meetings. Participant suggestions for improvement have been incorporated, for example, holding clinics earlier in the year, increasing follow-up after meetings, and holding longer meetings (extending them from one hour to one and a half hours).

Survey Results

Responses to the questions asked in the survey are provided. Participants were asked to rate how much they agreed with a given statement, then given opportunity to comment further. A representative sample of comments from parents and carers and school staff are also provided.

The school transition clinic is useful.

Parent and Carer Comments

  • Very helpful – realised number of people concerned.
  • Bring issues forward and get attention for them. If I didn’t have the clinic’s support, I wouldn’t get other agency support.

School Staff Comments

  • Parents become anxious during this transition period. They welcome information and support for their child as they leave school.
  • Have attended clinic with 2 students over the last 2 years – positive feedback and issues resolved for parents.

The participation of the school staff is useful in the transition clinic.

Parent and Carer Comments

  • Class teacher, principal and counsellor was great very useful – know the student well.
  • School staff know the child’s personality and problems. So important to have their input to give transition clinic a better understanding of the child’s needs.

School Staff Comments

  • Parents feel comfortable and supported by school staff when meeting with a large number of unfamiliar professionals.
  • School staff can provide info from an education perspective.

The school is the best place for this clinic.

Parent and Carer Comments

  • Yes because everyone is there and we don’t have to run around trying to find places.

School Staff Comments

  • If school, staff are to attend! Also allows for clinic staff to observe student/client.

It is helpful to have school staff, health staff, disability support staff and parents/carers in the same room.

Parent and Carer Comments

  • Allows real time communication between each discipline.
  • To have all these people together in one room is the only way to go, as everyone’s input is so important and gives all concerned the opportunity to hear it all first hand.

School Staff Comments

  • Gives bigger picture of student.
  • Ensures the full range of issues are covered.
  • Collaborative team approach.

It is stressful to have a large number of people in the same room during the clinic.

Parent and Carer Comments

  • It is stressful seeing so many people all different expertise asking all different questions and trying to take in what they are saying about different things and what they can recommend (e.g. different strategies on behaviour etc).
  • It’s a positive stress.

School Staff Comments

  • It may be stressful for some of the participants but the benefits far outweigh anything else.
  • Found everyone very welcoming / didn’t feel uncomfortable.

The transition period between school age and adulthood is stressful.

Parent and Carer Comments

  • Yes, as there are so many changes at once – school + hospital (life as we know it will be different).
  • Yes, because don’t know what the future holds for my child when they leave a caring and protected environment.

School Staff Comments

  • Scary for parents and students to move into the unknown.
  • It is a huge step from school to adulthood and is especially challenging for those with disabilities. In order for transition to be successful, lots of thoughtful discussion and planning is needed.

The clinic is a good way to help address my family’s concerns.

Parent and Carer Comments

  • To begin to help address issues or perhaps identify – give guidance + direction as to where to get help.
  • It’s one thing to talk, but how does it get ACTED upon? To make it useful.

School Staff Comments

  • Again all professionals concerned can give input and gain knowledge.

This clinic provided a service that I couldn’t have got elsewhere.

Parent and Carer Comments

  • Everyone should have one before leaving school – ties everything together.
  • This clinic enabled us to discover more services that are available when help is needed.

School Staff Comments

  • They are essential for the student and their family.

Essential or useful participants

(shown in the order ranked by survey respondents)

  1. Teacher
  2. Transition Care Coordinator
  3. Therapists/ Allied Health
  4. Paediatrician
  5. Case Manager
  6. Adult Physician
  7. Principal
  8. School Counsellor
  9. Psychiatrist

How can we improve on this service?

Parent and Carer Comments

  • No, I think the service you provide is fantastic with the follow up appointments and everything. Please don’t change anything but at the same time let’s not be complacent in stopping other things to save time and money in the long run.
  • Continue to involve ADHC, particularly around respite. Catch up a few months into new placement as uncertain as how child will go.
  • We were impressed with this service and gained a lot from it and found it very helpful with all the different areas represented at the one meeting.
  • Lots of people in the room can get confusing, need to be clearer with information.
  • More time? Or perhaps a follow up shortly after.

School Staff Comments

  • Transition clinic early in last year or even better when student in year 11.
  • Ensure all who should attend do attend. Need them to be longer. Post-school providers involved?
  • Feedback for the school about results of agreed actions would be helpful.
  • Time keeping has been an issue at times. Parents are sometimes kept waiting. The service has greatly improved in all aspects over its time at the school – a great addition to our program.
  • If school, staff are to attend! Also allows for clinic staff to observe student/client.