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Mapping user experiences of the Education, Health and Care process: a qualitative study

Research report

This report presents the findings from a small-scale qualitative study commissioned by the Department for Education (DfE) to examine user satisfaction with the Education, Health and Care (EHC) process for children and young people with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND). The study was undertaken by ASK Research. It was conducted from May to December 2015 – during the first year of the national implementation of the new EHC process, which began in September 2014.

We interviewed 77 parents and 15 young people with SEND and worked with over 120 professionals from four local authority areas in England. The findings in this report relate only to those four areas, but it could be assumed that some of the issues explored might be found in other local authorities. Authorities would need to gather their own user feedback in order to identify their own priorities.

There were two overarching aims of this study:
1. to map children, young people and families’ experience of the EHC process and determine their satisfaction with the service in the local area; and
2. to explore the extent to which the approaches employed to capture user feedback in the course of the study can help local areas and others to gather user satisfaction and make improvements to their service.

The specific questions we addressed were:
1. How are EHC assessment, planning and provision processes implemented by local authorities and delivery partners? What are the key aspects/encounters with regard to service user satisfaction and how do these vary by group?
2. What are the key issues driving user dissatisfaction and satisfaction for different groups in relation to these processes? How feasible is it to make revisions to services to improve user experience? If problems appear inherent/ intractable can this be challenged through innovation?
3. What practical and effective actions can local authorities take to improve user experiences in reference to key aspects of services and drivers of dissatisfaction? What good practice can be replicated and what innovative solutions can be reached in partnership with local authorities and delivery partners?
4. What methods can local authorities use to research and gain productive feedback themselves to improve user experiences? How best can this information be presented and disseminated to local authorities so that they will make good use of it?