The running of SchoolKit Clinics is guided by a set of six foundation principles. These principles address the expectations and obligations of the many different parties involved. It is essential to the success of SchoolKit Clinics that all professional personnel involved fully understand the foundation principles and are committed to them.

Foundation Principle #3 – Co-Design and Partnership

The primary carer and family of a young person with intellectual disability are actively involved in the development of all strategies and in all decisions about using the care and support services available to them. All participants work together in respectful collaboration and in a spirit of partnership, and all contributions are valued equally.

Under the National Safety and Quality Health Service Standards established in 2012, partnering with consumers has been established as a critical consideration in the design and delivery of all health services. This requires health service providers to ‘create a consumer-centred health system by including consumers in the development and design of quality health care’. This approach leads to health care that is respectful of, and responsive to, the preferences, needs and values of patients and consumers.

Co-design involves carers and families (consumers) working closely with the specialists, agencies and professionals who provide them with medical, health, education and support services to establish their specific needs and preferences, then to develop the tailored care strategy that is most suitable for them. This approach is particularly necessary for young people with complex needs as caring for them means balancing a number of variables and often limited resources. Care strategies designed in this way have a significantly greater chance of success than those imposed upon a family without their involvement.

SchoolKit Clinics are round-table meetings where all participants contribute to discussion, ask questions, make suggestions and play a role in developing relevant care and support strategies.

Families may feel powerless due to frustration with health services that do not suit them or do not have the resources to meet their needs. SchoolKit Clinics revolve around finding solutions that will work best for the family, in their particular situation. Families have direct input into all decisions on new strategies increasing the likelihood of their success.
Parents as Experts

Parents and carers are consulted as important partners in SchoolKit Clinics. They are considered experts in providing insights into their child or young person’s history, particularly in the home environment. They provide essential input into determining the viability of proposed strategies by identifying practical factors that may determine their success or failure.

They also assist with the ongoing evaluation of clinics so as to refine them to adapt to their child or young person’s particular needs (for example, through verbal feedback to the agencies involved, or more formally via a questionnaire). They are a vital link between the home, school, health, respite and other services they and their child or young person may be accessing.

Active Collaboration

As well as parents and carers, SchoolKit Clinics involve a partnership between professionals from the education and health sectors working together to improve care for children and young people with disability and complex needs. No one agency’s agenda is prioritised over any other and all parties work collaboratively, contributing as necessary to determine the most effective possible solutions for addressing the family’s specific challenges and requirements.

All parties need to have a good understanding of what SchoolKit Clinics are about (particularly the foundation principles) and recognise that they are not just ‘medical clinics’. There needs to be a shared understanding of the processes involved in forming care plans and how they will be implemented. Participants from both the education and health sectors need to be fully committed to this process.

SchoolKit Clinics can be multidisciplinary and multiagency, so clear leadership and facilitation is required in running clinics if clear outcomes are to result. Ideally, the working partnership between key representatives of the health and education sectors should be established prior to the first clinic. This may require a number of meetings, each of them involving at least the school principal and paediatrician, if not more of the ‘clinic team’. Another school principal who has had experience of running SchoolKit Clinics may also be involved.

For more about clinic leadership go to Chairing Roles & Leadership.