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Therapies through the autumn term

As schools, colleges and nurseries reopen this month, our assessment and therapy teams in Brighton & Hove and East Sussex are gradually restoring their full services, whilst keeping some of the new ways of working they developed during lockdown.

We caught up with staff from the Children’s Integrated Therapy and Equipment Service (CITES) in East Sussex and Child Development Services in Brighton to give us some detail about what to expect over the autumn and winter.

East Sussex

In East Sussex, face to face appointments will be restricted to reduce the risk of transmission of COVID-19. This means that you’ll be offered a video consultation, unless absolutely necessary for clinical reasons. And this applies to initial assessments, reviews and therapy.

Julie Caddock, CITES Clinical Services Manager, says “We know some children and young people will find it difficult to take part in assessment and therapy in this way so we will work with you, your child and their school to find the best way of providing assessment and therapy. And if you don’t have access to the internet, please contact us and we will make other arrangements for you.”

Plaster and orthotic clinics will resume at Chaucer Clinic where staff will be wearing protective clothing (PPE).

Now children have returned to school, CITES therapists are beginning to restore school-based services including the provision outlined in EHCPs. Though they will deliver provision as closely as possible to what has been outlined, CITES stress that this may be different to how they delivered services before the pandemic.

They will develop a programme based on the child’s individual needs which may include class-based work observation and support; programmes for the school or parent to carry out at home or parents or schools supporting the child to access virtual sessions with a therapist. Where a child has an EHCP, which states direct therapy from a qualified therapist, it may be agreed this is temporarily delivered by a member of teaching staff.

Once again, these ways of working will be developed according to the particular needs of the child.

Equipment visits are being risk assessed and, where essential, will be carried out face-to-face. If a visit is not essential, it will be carried out virtually. AJ Mobility continues to work with CITES to deliver, collect, service and repair equipment and their engineers have appropriate PPE to wear on all visits.

TOP ( Therapy One Point) is our single contact point for speech and language therapy, physiotherapy, occupational therapy (including adaptations), specialist equipment and general enquiries. We can provide advice and support for children on our caseload and for those not known to us.

To contact TOP, please phone 0300 123 2650 8.30am to 4.30pm, Monday to Friday.

Brighton & Hove

During the coronavirus pandemic, therapists, specialist nurses and paediatricians at Seaside View Child Development Centre in Brighton have been working together to deliver services.

Having received very positive feedback regarding video consultations, services are planning to continue these as well as undertaking some face to face appointments when there is a clinical need. Services also need to consider adequate space for social distancing, PPE and cleaning in line with national guidance when carrying out any face to face appointments.  Staff are also going into schools and other settings to see children.

Lucy Domoney, General Manager for Child Development Services in Brighton & Hove, said:

“During the pandemic our therapists, paediatricians, and nurses have worked creatively using video and phone appointments, linking with schools and assessing equipment at home. We have restarted many of our clinics including the orthotics clinics at Seaside View. Teams have also been developing online resources. We now have videos of our sensory workshop and a resource pack from the Occupational Therapy team. We’re keen to develop more resources and to collaborate with parent carers to make sure these work for families.”

Further work is planned on the Sussex Community Foundation Trust (SCFT) website and SCFT Youtube channel to keep everyone updated and to host resources. Seaside View have been adapting their ASC and psychology workshops to a remote interactive format so the face to face group sessions can continue virtually whilst they are not possible face to face.

Ratna Sundrum, Medical Lead at Seaside View, added:

“In addition to assessing newly referred children and reviewing children on our caseloads, we’ve been focusing on reducing waiting times for autism assessments. The autism team have offered autism history appointments remotely during the pandemic and since July we have also been able to complete the face to face part of the assessments. We have increased the resource available within the team for these assessments and in addition, a new speech therapist will be joining the team this month. We’ve been able to assess nearly all Year 6 children on the autism waiting list using social distancing, so that they can start secondary school with a diagnosis if appropriate. The joint ASC/ADHD clinics that we started as a pilot prior to lockdown have received very good feedback and we’ll start these again as soon as possible.”

Covid has increased pressures on services but Lucy and Ratna are working closely with parent carer representatives, the local Clinical Commissioning Group and local authority to identify and address specific difficulties and make improvements. Child Development Services at Seaside View also welcome feedback directly from parent carers so they can learn from this. Please get in touch with any queries or to share your views by emailing sc-tr.bgh-seasideviewcdc@nhs.net. You can also add comments and feedback here: https://www.smartsurvey.co.uk/s/seasideview/

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