Background: Early intervention services around the world have been influenced by the principles embodied in the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA P.L. 99-457). In Australia, early intervention for children with physical disabilities is provided by both government and non-government organisations, each advocating the importance of family centred practice in the way services are delivered. Services delivered in this way acknowledge parents as equal partners and important members of the early intervention team. In the context of this partnership service providers respond to child and family strengths as well as needs in order to support child developmental outcomes as well as community participation. Early intervention services are now required to document the extent to which children and their families have benefited by receiving these services. Parent satisfaction with and perception of service delivery methods are now commonly measured as part of service evaluation.
There are currently a limited number of tools available that measure parent satisfaction with early intervention services directly. This in part is due to the complexity of adopting satisfaction as a construct. What is known is that the quality of the relationship a family has with their service providers and the extent to which they feel well supported through provision of information the more positively they view these services. Both the provision of information and the quality of relationships are core features of family centred practice.
The study reported here is part of a broader investigation initiated by Disability Services, Department of Communities, Queensland Australia. Three non-government organisations in Queensland received funding through the Early Intervention Initiative of Disability Services. The current thesis concerns itself with families of children with physical disabilities who were receiving early intervention services delivered through these three organisations.
Aim: The main aim of this project was to explore the association between parent satisfaction with early intervention services for children (0-8 years) with physical disabilities and the extent to which service delivery was perceived to be family centred.
Methods: A sample of 159 families of children (0-8 years) with physical disabilities attending early intervention services in Queensland, Australia, were invited to complete a demographic questionnaire, the European Parent Satisfaction Scale about Early Intervention Services (EPASSEI), and the Measure of Process Of Care (MPOC-20).
Results: Internal consistencies for the EPASSEI and the MPOC-20 were .82 and .81 respectively, however individual subscale analyses revealed acceptable to poor internal consistencies (ranging from .42 to .88 for the EPASSEI and from .11 to .83 for the MPOC-20). The subscales of the EPASSEI relating to parents’ rights and the provision of respectful and supportive care of the MPOC-20 showed lowest internal consistencies, .42 and .11 respectively.
Overall satisfaction scores were high and 78.22% of the participants reported being satisfied or very satisfied with services being received. The majority of respondents (77.3%) reported their early intervention services to be family centred.
There was a strong correlation (r = .72) between total scores of the EPASSEI and the total scores of the MPOC-20 suggesting that parents’ satisfaction with services and the extent to which they perceive services as being family centred are highly associated.
Conclusion: Assessing parent satisfaction and their perception regarding family centredness of the service are important aspects of program evaluation. In this study, there were strong correlations between parents’ perceptions of services being family centred and their satisfaction with those services.