Physio uses ‘F’ words to improve communication between clinicians and parents of disabled children

Children’s physiotherapist Andrea Selley has developed an online learning programme and community to help professionals and parents work better together on supporting children with disabilities.


Andrea Selley teaches the ‘F words’ to help parents and professionals support disabled children to achieve their goals

Her approach, called the ‘F’ words, is based on research by two professors in Canada. They developed an accessible way of understanding the World Health Organization’s international classification of functioning, disability and health framework using the words: fun, family, friends, function, future and fitness.

The holistic approach is aimed at encouraging parents and professionals to focus on factors that are important to all children’s development.

Ms Selley left her post as an NHS manager of children’s services just over a year ago to start up a company, Synergy-Now, to deliver her ‘F’ word training.

‘I am passionate about getting better services for disabled children and using evidence from academia to achieve this,’ she said.

She has been presenting the approach to parents of disabled children and teachers at local special schools and the University of Cumbria.

‘It is about getting parents more involved in helping children to achieve their goals,’ she said, giving the example of a family who were upset that they had been told by a physio that their son should not be using a walker because of concerns that it could damage hip joints.

‘But by using the ‘F’ words in the conversation it helped them to communicate what was really important to the child.

‘It’s about giving parents a common language that physios will listen to, and the other way around.’ 

Ms Selley said she is sharing resources with the ‘F’ words’ developers on her website. The learning community will be launched in September.


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