Falkirk pilot to help young teens with additional support needs move into adult life
Falkirk is helping to lead a pilot study that aims to give better support to young people with additional support needs as they move from teenage years to adult life.
The study will look at how best to support them as they make the transition to adulthood - as lots of evidence shows this has all too often been a very difficult time for them and their families.
While the two-year pilot will run across 10 areas in Scotland, Falkirk and Dundee have been chosen as enhanced pilot areas.
In a presentation to Falkirk's education, children and young people committee, the people behind it promised that this is just the start of the journey.
Staff from Falkirk Council are now working with the campaigning charity Arc Scotland and a team from the Scottish Government to help create and deliver good practice that they hope will lead the way across the country.
The aim is to make sure that the young people involved look back on their transition as a positive experience - but they recognise that this will mean something different for every person.
Sara Hampson, from the Scottish Government, said: "We want the young people and their families to be able to report positively about their experience - but that needs to be what they think is a positive experience, rather than what we think as professionals."
The key to this, she said, will be involving the young people and their carers as well as everyone who works with the young people.
The pilots have a set of principles: planning should start early; young people and their families must get all the information they need; support should be co-ordinated; and everything must be person-centred.
The test, however, is to put these principles into practice and that's something they want to see happen as quickly as possible.
Rebecca Williams, from Arc, said: "We're still hearing from young people that they are having difficult experiences and we are still hearing from our health and social care partnerships that they are really struggling with how they co-ordinate and plan support at this critical time."
She said the key to changing this would be by listening to young people and their families telling them what is working and what isn't.
To help, a new app, called Compass, has been developed to guide families through the process and get the feedback that will be crucial to improving the experience for everyone.
A different app, that will be tailored to the young people involved, is currently being tested.
Ms Hampson told councillors that she felt there was "a lot of will for change in Falkirk" and she was confident that several changes could be made quickly that would have an impact.
"This is going to be a very dynamic and active project," she said.
The leader of Falkirk Council Cecil Meiklejohn, said: "Being involved in the pilot is a great opportunity not just for our young people and their families but also for us to help develop good practice going forward."