Professor Geraldine MacDonald
In recent years, there has been an increased emphasis on the participation of children and their families in decisions that affect them and the services that they use. This has been accompanied by a growing recognition of the importance of involving children and families as ‘users’ of health and social care services in the planning, delivery and evaluation of services. Disabled children and their families are frequent users of such services and are therefore well placed to provide valuable information and share their experiences as service users. In 2002, the Southern Health and Social Services Board in Northern Ireland introduced a new approach to service provision (known as ‘Wraparound’) designed around the principles of participation, empowerment and partnership in order to make a difference to the lives of disabled children and families within the Southern Board. The overall aim of this ESRC funded project is to explore the meaning and experience of participation, empowerment and partnership from the perspectives of children, parents and professionals involved in ‘Wraparound’. Research questions will address the extent to which professionals, parents and disabled children share a common understanding of participation, empowerment and working in partnership and the extent to which this reflects their experience of services, the degree to which disabled children and parents are actively involved in the design, delivery and evaluation of services and the extent to which these features help to ensure that disabled children achieve their potential and realise their aspirations in line with current policy.