Key workers play an important role in improving the quality of life for disabled children and their families, according to researchers at the University of York.
A study from the university's Social Policy Research Unit (SPRU) found that a key worker is both a source of support for the disabled children and their families and also a link by which other services are accessed and used effectively.
The researchers recommended that the role of a key worker should include providing information to families about services and the child's condition, co-ordinating care planning and addressing the needs of all family members, improving access to services, providing emotional support when needed and speaking on behalf of the family when dealing with services.
Professor Tricia Sloper, who led the research, said: "Up to now there has been no research on the outcomes for families of different types of services. This research provides the first evidence on the characteristics of key worker services that provide the best outcomes for families. It also has important implications for the management of these services."
Katy Barton, Network Manager for Care Co-ordination Network UK (CCNUK), said the research supported the principles in the CCNUK Key Worker Standards that were published in 2004.
"We hope that these latest findings will contribute to the development of more high quality key worker services throughout the UK. For key worker services to meet the needs of disabled children and their families, it is crucial that these services are set up with adequate strategic and operational resources, planning and support."