Supporting the transition from school to young adult life
The Association for Real Change (ARC) Scotland is a charity who is committed to ensuring disabled and supported people are at the heart of their health and social care services. One of their areas of focus is the process of transitioning into young adult life, be that into further education, employment, or adult care. For young people with additional support needs (183, 491 of them in Scotland in 2017), this process is far from straightforward, and varies dramatically depending on their unique circumstances. For their parents and carers, it is often a stressful and confusing process for which it is difficult to find relevant information and support.
Keeping parents and carers involved
Principles into Practice is a draft framework developed by ARC Scotland, based on the existing Principles of Good Transitions. It is intended to improve the planning and delivery of support for young people with additional needs. In order to best serve the parents of these young people, it is important to give them all the resources they need to make informed decisions about the transition process. It is equally important to optimise the process itself according to their needs. This means finding out directly from parents what does and does not work, and making changes based on their lived experiences and feedback. To achieve these goals, it was decided that a web-based application would be created.
Guiding parents through transitions
To address the difficulty involved in finding transition-related information, we proposed two core areas of functionality – personalised signposting and a glossary of commonly used terms. In order to collect all the necessary resources, we co-created personas and a user journey map with ARC Scotland. We used these to map out the various stages of a transition, which allowed us to identify the information required by parents at each point in the process. To ensure that what a user sees is tailored specifically to their situation, we built the tool to ask a series of questions relating to their young person, such as age, school year and expected leaving date. This allows us not to show information that is not relevant or helpful in the context of that young person’s transition.
Designing and building an accessible tool with parents and carers
Another aspect of Principles into Practice is gathering feedback from parents and carers about their experiences with the transition process. Regularly asking questions gives them the opportunity to reflect on and track their progress, and the data collected allows local authorities to identify where improvements are required. The mechanism for giving feedback that we implemented in the application is a questionnaire, with questions based on the young person’s stage in the transition process. It was designed with input from users, and several iterations have been remotely tested with potential end users. Throughout the development process, we have made it a priority to make the tool accessible, so that it is usable by parents of a range of abilities.
Trialing a co-designed solution in selected local authorities
The parent and carer version of the tool, named Compass, is now in a state where it is ready for a trial across a selection of local authorities. If successful, it will become available to an even greater number of parents and carers, and will be key in making the transition process as smooth as possible for supported young people and their families. A young person’s version of the tool is also being developed. Alongside ARC Scotland, we are currently in the process of testing an early prototype in schools with supported young people.