What does it do?
The Habilitation Team is part of the Low Incidence Vision Impairment Team and comprises of a Senior Habilitation Officer, and two Habilitation Officers, supported by experienced and specially trained Specialist Support Assistants for Children and Young People with Vision Impairment (VISSAs) in the Local Authority led resourced Provisions (LARPs) at Grove House Primary School and Hanson Academy.
The Quality Standards in Habilitation (2011) provide the framework for Habilitation services. These were the outcome of the Mobility 21 Project funded by the Department for Children, Schools and Families (DCSF) in England from 2007, and involved collaboration between the Institute of Education (IOE) at the University of London and the Royal National Institute of Blind people (RNIB).’ ‘These Quality Standards are designed to ensure that children and young people with visual impairment are enabled, through high quality mobility and independence training and support, to achieve the greatest possible independence and maximise their outcomes and life chances.’ (Quality Standards, 2011)
The Habilitation Team have collated a portfolio of evidence to demonstrate that they meet the standards, and these are regularly up-dated.
What is Habilitation?
The term ‘habilitation’ relates to the teaching and learning of techniques and strategies which enable children and young people with vision impairment (VI) to develop Mobility & Orientation and Independent Living Skills. Mobility & Orientation refers to skills and techniques that enable a child or young person to explore, move or travel safely and as independently as possible. Independent Living Skills includes any activity which a child or young person would be expected to be able to carry out at a certain age or stage of their development. Within both of these areas a wide range of skills and techniques can be taught from the basic to the complex. The focus is always on the child’s specific set of needs, their age and ability at any time during the early years or whilst in education.
The outcome of habilitation training is always for the child to achieve their full potential and become as independent as possible. Broader outcomes specifically for children who have a vision impairment, as taken from the Quality Standards (2011) include:
- The maximum degree of independent living.
- The maximum degree of independent travel and mobility.
- Emotional well-being, including self-confidence and self-esteem.
- The maximum degree of social inclusion.
- Competence in the use of any specialist habitation tools as aids to mobility and independence.
- The ability to be able to assess risks and anticipate likely areas of personal difficulty in mobility and independent living.
The Habilitation Team services include:
- Assessments to establish a child’s or young person's needs.
- Mobility and independence skills training.
- Advice and support workshops for parents and carers, and schools.
- Practical work with friends, family and professionals to support children and young people with vision impairment.
- Environmental audits, particularly at times of transition.
- Risk management.
Habilitation training includes the teaching of early movement skills, sensory, spatial and body concepts as well as cane training, route learning and independent living skills. The team have developed a specialist curriculum for use in the Local Authority led Resourced Provisions, which can be transferred into mainstream settings.
For children with vision impairment in special schools, where there may be additional and complex needs, training will be delivered regularly to school staff, and individual work with pupils will be on an individual basis.
Further detailed information about habilitation can be found here : Quality Standards - Delivery of Habilitation Training (Mobility and Independent Living Skills) for Children and Young People with Visual Impairment
Who is it for?
The eligibility for referral to the Habilitation team is the same as for all children and young people with a diagnosed vision impairment from birth to 25 years of age.
Most children will be identified as new referrals to The Vision Impairment Outreach Team, but referral for habilitation work may come through parents, or other agencies. Children and Young People will be assessed against the criteria set out in Local Authority Matrix of Need, and the NATSiP (The National Sensory Impairment Partnership) eligibility criteria; all children are entitled to an initial assessment, but on-going work will be carried out with children where deemed appropriate.
For those who have an Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP), the EHCP will specify the habilitation provision and measure outcomes.
The team will usually work with children and young people in blocks of time, in order to develop new skills, rather than an on-going, regular basis. For example, a child might have weekly visits for a term, and then monthly follow up until the next block of new work.
• For ages 0 – 5, Early years mobility skills follow MISE ‘Mobility and independence assessment and evaluation scheme’. The Habilitation Officer will work closely with parents, QTVI / Specialist Practitioner and settings to ensure that young children have the best possible chances of becoming independently mobile and confident.
• For ages 5 – 16, Habilitation work in the school years builds on early skills and moves children through age appropriate milestones towards independence in mobility and life skills.
• If young people stay in a school setting until they are 19, the Habilitation Team will continue to work with them, towards further independence and transition to the next phase.
• The team also offers a traded service for young people in Post 16 settings and out of authority.
• If young people move into employment or Further Education, the team will make a referral and liaise with the Adult Rehabilitation team, who continue the service into adulthood.
The service is available to children and young people in homes, schools and community settings, before and after school, during the school day and during school holidays. The Bradford Habilitation officers work in all locations and all year round.