Enabling families to give informed consent where young children are using eye gaze technology.

As from April 2010 all health and adult social care providers will be required by law to register with Care Quality Commission (CQC). Out of the 24 Outcomes set up by CQC, Outcome 2 is set around people’s consent to care and treatment:

–       Where they are able, give valid consent to the examination, care, treatment and support they receive.

–       Understand and know how to change any decisions about examination, care, treatment and support that has been previously agreed.

–       Can be confident that their human rights are respected and taken into account.

In recent years assessment and provision of eye gaze devices have become popular as a) the only reliable and consistent method of access to technology for some clients with severe physical disability b) an additional method of access but faster than other means of access.

The East Kent Communication and Assistive Technology Service is assessing and supporting children and young people as young as five years to use eye gaze systems.  The Service anticipated the need to raise the awareness of the staff involved in assessment and provision of eye gaze devices on the issue of current standards related to safety.  This was to gain informed consent from the families, in line with Outcome 2 of the CQC requirements, before providing the devices. To do so, a literature search took place which resulted in producing information for clients’ families.

The literature suggests that the Infrared light emitted from the devices currently in the market is within current international and European standards however none of the standards are particularly designed around this technology and further research is required.  This information needs to be communicated to families, alongside the assessed benefits of eye gaze, so that families can give valid, informed consent to a care and support package incorporating eye gaze technology.