Reconfiguring Children’s Services

As part of Transforming Lives, the Health Service Executive’s (HSE) Progressing Disability Services for Children and Young People programme has reconfigured children’s disability services into Children’s Disability Network Teams which provide services based on children’s needs rather than diagnosis and provide services based on where children with disabilities live.

The programme is based on the recommendations of the 2009 Report of the Reference Group on Multi-disciplinary Services for Children aged 5-18 Years. The aim of the Progressing Disability Services programme is to reconfigure of children’s disability services to deliver equitable, family-centred services for children and young people with complex disabilities in every part of Ireland.

We contributed to the Progressing Disability Services for Children and Young People programme by participating on a HSE working group on measuring children’s and families outcomes and a working group on staff and team training needs.

We were asked to contribute to the Progressing Disability Services programme by undertaking a piece of research which would:

  • Review the literature on the development of disability services for children including the composition, configuration and outcomes of early intervention and school age disability teams and recommended caseloads for therapists
  • Consider pertinent data that might contribute to determining the number, size and composition of early intervention and school-age teams in Ireland. This includes considering the functioning of the already established Early Intervention and School Age Disability Teams for their strengths, weaknesses, size, composition, structure and functioning
  • Examine the size and distribution of the 0-5 and 6-18 year old populations in Ireland from the 2011 census and from the Growing Up in Ireland Survey
  • Examine the ratio of therapists to children in children's disability services and propose ratios based on the literature and on calculations from available data sources.

We published a report on 'Children's Disability Services in Ireland' in 2015 which reviewed the national and international research and data to inform the size and composition of therapy teams for children's disability services. The report also examined a number of data sources to identify the scale of unmet need for therapy services. While it was not possible to make exact estimates of the total resources required, the evidence showed a clear shortfall in therapy services, and we advised that additional resources be put into this area.

Assessment of need under Part 2 of the Disability Act, 2005

The NDA undertook a review of how the assessment of need under part 2 of the Disability Act was operating in 2011. The 'Report on the Practice of Assessment of Need under Part 2 of the Disability Act 2005' included the views of parents of children with disabilities.