Medway Community Healthcare (MCH) provides a wide range of high quality community health services for Medway residents; from health visitors and district nurses to speech and language therapists and out of hours urgent care.
Children who have long term conditions, who may need regular review and may need advice from a Paediatrician. Children with cerebral palsy, Downs syndrome, genetic disorders, global developmental delay and children who are being investigated who are presenting with developmental delay or difficulties.
If the child is under 6 years of age and is presenting two years behind in learning ability then we will accept the child into Violet pathway to have a full medical to check there is no underlying medical conditions. If the child is established in school and is over 6 years we suggest that the Educational Psychologist is invited to give advice. If the team consider there is a need to refer in for medical help we will accept a joint referral from the school and Educational Psychologist.
If the child is under 6 years of age then a referral into the violet pathway with be reviewed by the team and the most appropriate professional will see the child first. The team will assess the child and ensure all their medical needs are assessed. If the child is over 6 years and has never seen a health professional then we will assess if the child meets our criteria.
Medications for ADHD are seen on the Indigo pathway. Children that are on medications for managing spasticity, epilepsy and sleep will be regularly reviewed by the Paediatrician if they are the primary prescriber. Children on medications for cancer, diabetes, respiratory disorders, heart conditions urinary disorders cystic fibrosis will be seen by the acute paediatricians at the hospital.
It is really important that school include all possible information on the child. Little details on how they behave, communicate and play will help us clinically triage onto the right pathway. If we don’t think the ASD pathway is right we will automatically move them to the right pathway.
We are changing the wording on the referral form to state, social communication difficulties or attention and listening difficulties. This will help school discuss issues without having to label children
This can be for many reasons. Often the screening forms ie ASD profile and The Cambridge questionnaire have not been sent with the referral. When triaging we may note that the child appears not to meet the criteria from the questionnaires
We encourage school to attend but you would need to gain consent for this to happen from parents. One member of staff can come along with parents.
Our services have now changed and we try and get the most appropriate person to see the child this may not be a paediatrician at any point in the referral process. For example if a school suspects a child has ADHD then we will ensure the child receives a full assessment lead by our specialist nurses who are able to prescribe any ADHD medications.
For children who have developmental delay our therapists may be the first port of call with a Doctors working alongside at the point that we are ready to make a potential diagnosis.
Children with long term conditions such as cerebral palsy or Downs syndrome will see a paediatrician with the MDT at least once per year.
After we have made a diagnosis of ASD the child will not continue to see a Doctors unless the child is on medication or we are considering further test to look at other diagnosis.
Schools can access the ASD and ADHD diagnostic pathways if children meet the criteria. If children do not meet the criteria for these two pathways then parents should be encouraged to visit their child’s GP who will be able to undertake a full medical to rule out any other concerns. GP’s can access the ASD and ADHD diagnostic pathway but we have asked them to refer through the school so that we get all the information we need. This will mean that we will still apply our referral criteria If a GP has any concerns not linked to the ADHD and ASD pathways they have direct access into our community paediatricians.
There are universal services like school nurses and health visitors who can give support about behaviour. Also Early Help services in Medway can offer behaviour support for schools.
Early help services offer parenting support for under 5’s and parents with children who are undergoing ADHD assessment via the Triple P programme. Incredible years programmes are also available through Early help services if parents are eligible for Early help. Voluntary agencies like Family Action and The Salvation Army also have parenting support programmes available.
If a parent/carer has a child that is known to MCH they will be eligible to access parent group sessions that will be delivered at MCH and behaviour clinics for some who may require a higher level of support.
Parent Group Sessions – Focused on increasing proactive parenting approaches as the initial focus for behavior management.
Behaviour Clinics – Focused on individual support for parents/carer’s where a higher level of behavior support is required.
Behaviour Support Plans – Focused on compiling a clear plan of interventions that support the young person based on evidence of what things may cause the behavior of concern.
Functional Assessments – To be undertaken as part of the Behaviour support process at an informal or more structured level.
Medway Inclusions team will be offering support to schools for behaviour as training in Positive behaviour support in Medway is implemented.
The Behaviour Specialist at MCH can offer awareness training to schools on Positive Behaviour Support. Also training for staff to deliver parent training programmes within the school is available as part of traded services.
We really value the input schools give us in relation to how the child performs at school in terms of their learning ability, social skills and any sensory difficulties. Without this information we cannot make an accurate diagnosis and forward plan as the criteria for diagnosis says for ADHD and ASD states the child should present with difficulties in all areas of their life School is clearly a big area. The questionnaires that schools and parents complete are scored and form part of the diagnostic information
We rely on schools giving us as much information as possible so we can place the child on the right pathway quickly. We ask schools to think about whether the child is predominantly displaying social communication difficulties or if behaviour is affecting the child ability to attend and learn. If this is difficult for schools to categorise, an alternative would be to fill in the referral form and request a screening session. We would see the child and parents for a quick session to determine the correct pathway. We will communicate this back to school who will then be able to complete the right referral forms. Please be reassured that if you are not sure and you let us know on the referral form we will triage and place the child on the correct pathway. We will not put the child and family through unnecessary assessments based solely on the information a school gives us.
This may be new to schools but we must seek information from school to comply with NICE guidance. Once a child is placed on medication we always regularly review to see if we have the correct dose. The reason for medicating a child is to give them opportunity to function appropriately in society and for the child to be able to access education. It is important to ensure we can use the minimum amount of medication. All medication has side effects and therefore we are constantly striving to balance the health and education needs of the child. Children newly placed on medication will have a review very shortly after starting and we rely on schools to help us understand if the medication is having the desired effect.
Medication review forms are sent to the parent who takes full responsibility for administering the medication either in person or instructing others. We ask the parents to take responsibility for the forms to foster better working practice between parents and school so we get a united response.
The medication review forms are to get an oversight on how the child is benefiting from the medication. It is not necessary for individual teachers to fill out the forms. This should be coordinated in school so that we are agreed on whether the medication is overall benefitting the child.
MCH can talk to school about aspects of the child’s care if parents have consented for this information to be shared.
At MCH we have several different school nurses who can help pupils. For the majority of children our Public Health school nursing team will be your first point of contact from 7 y – 18 years. Schools nurses work alongside the health visiting service for children transitioning into school up to the age of 7.
For children with learning disabilities are learning disability nurses are available to help families with specific concerns especially around sleep management continence and behaviours. For children that have on-going health needs our specialist schools nurses are available to help children in school and at home and will also train schools staff in medical procedures that have to be undertaken in school time.
We also have a team of nurses who are responsible for delivering the school health checks such as vision, hearing, and weight management.
MCH follow NICE guidance and it is recommended that parents and schools offer a graduated response to helping the child before medical intervention is considered. This includes strategies within school and at home. Research has shown us that parents that have a better understanding of how to help their children with behavioural difficulties after attending a parenting programme. Without behavioural management strategies in place at home and at school then the child will continue to struggle to learn regardless of any diagnosis.
In the first instance contact the childs parents and ask if they have noticed a difference. It is important to compare notes as often the timing of when medications are given can alter performance at different times of the day. Parents and schools can ring the central number to get a message to the clinical team. Please ensure contact details are left and times the clinicians can call or if it is easier an email address. At all times we will seek permission from parents to discuss the childs case with schools. We try and get this permission at the time of diagnosis for on going dialogue between parents, school and ourselves but this may not always be given and we will always respect parents choice. However any concern a school raises with us will be investigated and appropriate actions taken.
If schools have serious concerns regarding medications that they feel parents are not addressing then schools should alert us so we can discuss with parents and If necessary the school should raise this through their normal safeguarding routes.
Medway core standard has been written by MCH in partnership with n interested group of Medway Head teachers and SENCo s to help school offer a graduated response to helping children with emerging needs. The resource manual is available when schools book onto the one day free training. We have included lots of activities you can use in the classroom incorporating movement, sensory and communication into one programme of care underpinned by sound behavioural management techniques. Completion of the course and school self audit will enable you to become a Bronze partner with us so that we can work with you throughout the year to build on your skills and help you develop a fully inclusive school.
To become a silver and gold partner please have a look on our web site at the schools training manual where you will see a large variety of course for school staff.