What outcome are you looking for?

Outcome planning with parents in Fife

One key aim of Connor Goes Swimming is to help therapists and parents share outcome planning.  Speech and Language Therapists in Fife are now successfully integrating this approach to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of their practice.  Here, a member of the team describes the benefit she finds in using the Storyworlds Life Activity Cards.

The situation

The first time I used the action planning cards was with a parent whose child I’d been assessing over several sessions.  I wanted to discover what outcome she was hoping for from my work with her son.  Since she now knew me, she was happy to try this new approach.


How the cards help me

Using the cards helps me in three ways:

  1. The conversation becomes more equal.  I don’t feel as if I’m interrogating the parent.  The cards give us something physical to focus on.  We can refer to them together and make sure that all parts of the question are covered.
  2. My assumptions are challenged.  For example, when we discussed the question “How will I know change has happened?” I discovered that the mum’s views were very different from mine.  I had assumed that she would want her son’s language to be the best it could be and at an appropriate level for his age.  However, what she was looking for was for her son to be a more confident communicator and not to hesitate as much before he started speaking.  Having this information meant that when setting goals for the work, I could steer away from an ‘impairment’ based approach.
  3. I discover the parent’s understanding of my role in the therapy process.  With this information I then know if I need to explain or discuss anything before the intervention actually starts.


What do I now do differently?

I used to assume that all parents simply wanted their children’s speech or language to be “fixed.”  I now realise that many parents have a very different outcome in mind, relating to their child’s well–being, confidence and participation.

So in future I will not jump to conclusions about what parents hopes are for therapy, but instead use the cards to help structure a conversation around outcomes.  Also, I realise how important it is to discuss the therapist’s role so that realistic expectations can be set from the get go.

The cards give me an informal, relaxed way to talk to parents about what’s important to them 

They said “School meetings are rushed through in an hour.  Just being offered a cup of tea would make all the difference in helping us to relax and feel welcomed.”

I said “she’s angry because no-one’s listening to her.  She just needs someone to listen to her and to say sorry.”  I said “if you’re interested, there’s a resource called Important to Me….one of the things they talk about is FEEDBACK.  It might be challenging for you to hear the feedback, but it might also be useful.”