Why parents need to be included in decision making

One of the main concerns we hear from parents, and one of our main concerns as parents ourselves, is the lack of real involvement in our child or young person’s life.

We know we are an expert in our child or young person, and often practitioners are aware of this too.  However, what are the benefits of involving us in decision making?

Recognition-Primed Decision (RPD)  process

Why parents need to be involvedThe RPD Process was created by research psychologists Gary Klein, Roberta Calderwood and Anne Clinton-Cirocco in the late 1980s.

The RPD Process details the 3 basic steps that we use, often without even thinking about them, when we need to make a quick decision.

The three steps are:

  1. Experience the situation
  2. Analyse the situation.
  3. Take action.

The RPD Process involves our knowledge and experience of our child and the importance that has when we have to make decisions quickly.

The RPD Process is based on recognising patterns and using our experience to analyse what will work.  So it’s not something you can pick up from a text book and apply.  Your knowledge and experience of your child is something you will never find in a text book – wouldn’t life be so much easier if it was?

Why is RPD Process important?

Without that knowledge and more importantly, experience, we tend to use “trial and error” methods to come up with a solution.  This can take up valuable time and resources, in services currently facing some of their biggest budget cuts to date.

Parents will tell you of several occasions when their child was failed by the system.  However, if you look into these stories further, it will often come down to the fact that the school/LA/Health or other provider didn’t tap into the knowledge and experience that parents have.

The child is failed, often when the parent can be heard saying “if I could just tell you” or “I’ve seen this before, I know what to do” but no one cares to listen.

Having a parent on board who can share their knowledge and experience is invaluable.  CCGs, LA, Social Care, Education and all providers really can’t afford not to use such a valuable asset.  They should be knocking down our doors and pleading with us to talk to them.

Not using this resource is the same as reading a book about how to fight fires and then turning up at a large fire and not listening to the Firefighter with 20 years experience.

It’s the same as watching an episode or two of House and then refusing to listen to the Neurologist with 30 years experience under their belt.

No one would be that stupid.  Okay, maybe a few people would be but every village requires an idiot.

So why do so many services and practitioners ignore the most valuable asset they have?

Can you imagine having a free unbelievably useful resource available to you and not using it?

Text books are great.  They can provide us with lots of useful information.  They can share case studies of other children and the experiences of many practitioners.  However, the text book will never replace individual knowledge and experience.  This knowledge and experience is something used in any person centred planning.  It’s why parents are often such great advocates when we are looking at how we can all help our child or young person to reach a goal.

This knowledge and experience of our children is not in any text book.    We are able to experience the situation (what’s the problem), analyse the situation (what are the options) and then make a rapid decision (take action).  This can be done quickly and without spending months (or even years) trying different methods because we know our child.

RPD process is hugely effective when behaviour crops up that maybe a new provider hasn’t seen before but as a parent, you remember it from a few years ago.

It works when there is a crisis and we need to make a decision quickly.  If your child has medical needs, the chances are you will have carried out certain procedures as often as any nurse.  What may appear to be a crisis to someone may just be a standard day for you or at least, something you have dealt with on a number of occasions or perhaps dealt with similar situations.

We can use the Recognition-Primed Decision process only when we have experience AND knowledge, of a situation.  Providers need to appreciate that we have this knowledge and experience and, for them more importantly, they need to know what the benefits are of using that.

The biggest benefit of using RPD Process is time and money.

Unfortunately we live in a system which is very low on funds so utilising our knowledge and experience has got to be best for everyone.  Best for our child – they are not being set up to fail – and best for the budgets – no time or resource wasted trying something that anyone with knowledge and experience of the situation can tell you won’t work.





Debs Aspland

Mum to three great kids, each with a different SEN. Transplanted from the NW to the SE. Co-founder and Director of Bringing Us Together

You may also like...

3 Responses

  1. Dan says:

    Here is the Care Act 2014. 19Local authority functions: supporting and involving children and young people
    In exercising a function under this Part in the case of a child or young person, a local authority in England must have regard to the following matters in particular—
    (a) the views, wishes and feelings of the child and his or her parent, or the young person;
    (b) the importance of the child and his or her parent, or the young person, participating as fully as possible in decisions relating to the exercise of the function concerned;
    (c) the importance of the child and his or her parent, or the young person, being provided with the information and support necessary to enable participation in those decisions;
    (d) the need to support the child and his or her parent, or the young person, in order to facilitate the development of the child or young person and to help him or her achieve the best possible educational and other outcomes. Why is this Legislation being ignored by LA’s, the CoP and the OS especially when a dedicated Parent has done no wrong and Parent Alienation is created for life? Is this Justice?

  2. DAn says:

    We have a Care Act 2014 which strongly mentions “Family Involvement in their loved one’s lives” but, one the other hand we have biased Family Court Judges, cruel Social Workers and corrupt Solicitors using Blanket Assessments/Reports/Statements whilst doing “exactly” the opposite. So, what is point of the Care Act 2014 Mr. Department of Health?? Where Mr. Parliament? Mr. Law Commission and the MoJ on this. Parent Alienation of impeachable Parent is totally unacceptable.

  3. Steph Curtis says:

    Yes, yes YES! We talked about this at a post-OFSTED meeting this week. Professionals seem to have a real fear, or distrust of parents, and they need help to get over it… likewise parents of professionals. We can all help by not assuming ‘all professionals’ or ‘all parents’ are the same, and by being open and honest!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.