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Communicating with families: Parents as partners – Making a difference together

Last Updated on 07/12/2023 by Sarah Sarsby

The BHTA has worked with the Don’t Call Me Mum campaign initiative to produce this article. We want to help professionals and companies working with carers and families of adults and children with additional needs to demonstrate their respect of parents as partners.

When you enter a family’s house, it is also their home, their place of comfort, and a safe space. Whilst keeping this in mind, professionals should understand the potential anxieties and fears families may have around outsiders entering their home and the decisions that may be made. Working with parents/carers and involving them at every stage of a meeting/assessment will help gain their respect and trust.

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Companies, professionals, and parents are all the experts in their own right. Bringing together everyone’s skills, knowledge and resources creates the best outcome because when parents are partners; everyone, especially the person with the disability, wins.


Every family has a story. Every interaction is part of an ongoing journey littered with complications, emotions and challenges.

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Every person has a different set of priorities and expectations. When each party openly communicates their agenda and priorities, progress can be made.

We have established some top tips to help when working with families.


  • Look parents/carers in the eye, shake their hand, smile, introduce yourself and ask their name.
  • When introduced to a family, talk directly to the child or adult with a disability even though they may not be able to respond and where possible find out how they communicate.
  • Listen.
  • Give clear, honest, and accessible information.
  • Ensure parents/carers and person with disability are involved in the decision-making process and know what outcomes to expect.
  • Give the opportunity to ask questions.


  • Call parents Mum or Dad.
  • Assume you can see a disability.
  • Minimise parent’s concerns.
  • Don’t underestimate the extent of a parent’s workload.
  • Underrate a person’s ability to understand, communicate, and contribute.

The BHTA is one of the UK’s oldest and largest healthcare trades association. To find out more about the BHTA and see other useful guidance articles, click here.

To become a supporter of ‘Don’t Call Me Mum’ and show that your company, department, or school acknowledges the essential contribution parents make, order your supporters pack and contact us to add our logo to your website. Email us: or visit the Don’t Call Me Mum website.

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With thanks to Born at the Right Time bringing a family’s perspective to professional practice and pioneer of the Don’t Call Me Mum initiative.

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