AMENDMENTThis chapter was reviewed and adjusted in January 2019.
1. General Principles of Consultation
Service Users and Professionals involved in the receipt and delivery of services should be encouraged to consult, as far as possible about the decision making process, which may affect them so that they can make informed decisions about the services they will receive.
This in the main will include children, young people, their Advocates, their parents, other significant family members and those externally commissioned services; including all frontline staff, managers, foster carers, colleagues from other agencies.
All children and young people with respect to their age and ability should be actively encouraged to contribute as fully as they can with respect to the decisions that will be made regarding their short - long term futures.
Unless there are exceptional circumstances, reasonable steps must be taken in all cases to consult with parents or those that hold (PR) Parental Responsibility. Exceptions will include where a child is placed for adoption and where those children and young people with an appropriate level of maturity specifically request that their parents are not consulted and a management decision is made to respect their views and wishes.
Consultation should take place on a regular basis with those that receive services and judgements should not be made about their inability or lack of interest. If, during the consultation process, they do not wish to participate, this should be respected and clearly noted, but they should still be encouraged, as they may change their mind.
If there are any identified communication difficulties, suitable measures will be provided to enable them to participate, including arranging fair access to any advocates or other representatives who may translate or speak on their behalf with the relevant tools used.
Consultation should be undertaken in an innovative way and visual aids used as need be, such as video workshops and face to face forums.
If consultation is not possible or is restricted for whatever reason, steps should be taken to ensure that those affected are informed of decisions as soon as practicable after they are made. An explanation for the decision given, together with an opportunity to make comments and express their views and wishes should be offered. If it is then felt that a different decision may have been more appropriate, the practitioner should reflect upon the decision and review with a manager.
If a decision has been made against the views and wishes of an individual, they should be informed of the reasons with a full explanation in writing, if feedback is given orally. In such circumstances, the individual should be informed of their rights to formally challenge the decision making process, and be provided with the Complaints Procedure, if they are a service user. If a colleague is unhappy with the decision making process they should make best endeavours to discuss this with their supervising line manager to resolve the matter.Children and Young People should also be informed of their right to appoint an independent Advocate, and if an advocate is appointed, he or she must be consulted in accordance with the principles set out in this section.
2. Management Consultation
Unless otherwise stated in these procedures, it is assumed that all staff working with Children Schools and Families will take reasonable steps to keep their supervisory managers informed of their actions; and consult and seek their approval where they do not have decision making responsibility delegated to them.In order to facilitate this, managers must ensure that they have effective lines of communication with their staff teams and create a space that promotes open lines of communication.
3. Legal Consultation
It is expected that, in following these procedures and any local guidance in Merton, Social Care managers will seek legal advice as appropriate before taking any action and/or making decisions, which may change the legal status of a child. This is of particular importance in crisis intervention where emergency action is being considered and necessary.
By promoting effective lines of communication it is the manager's role to ensure that this is maintained by quality assurance and regular liaison with external partner agencies, so that expectations are set out to all parties.