Developing an integrated neurodevelopmental pathway for children and young people

Why is an integrated approach important?

We know that, for children and young people with complex needs, what works best is when the practitioners and services around them work together in a joined up way. This supports families to know that their needs are being recognised and met in the most effective way.

For agencies working with children and young people, a joined up approach also reduces duplication and ensures the most effective use of resources.

The St Helen’s Model

The St Helen’s Neurodevelopmental pathway has been redesigned over the last few years and was launched in its current format in 2018. The pathway is designed to support children and young people up to the age of 18, and their families where neurodevelopmental difficulties have been identified. It takes a multi-agency approach to identifying and meeting needs and includes an offer of support for families to access at its core. The pathway can lead to a formal diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder (ASD), attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), global developmental delay (GDD) and difficulties with attachment. Importantly, the offer of support to families is accessible before, during and after the pathway journey and also when no formal diagnosis is made.

Local Area CQC/Ofsted SEND Inspection comments on the pathway:

“The innovative neurodevelopmental pathway has transformed the accessibility, timeliness and coordination of specialist services for children, young people and their families. Parents and carers agree that referrals are dealt with efficiently and appropriately.”

“Joint commissioning is a strength of the local area. The development of the neurodevelopmental pathway demonstrates the commitment of senior leaders and managers to work collaboratively.”

Explore the St Helen’s pathway below, as well as other resources that have been developed, including referral documents and the following article:

Cost of assessing a child for possible autism spectrum disorder? An observational study of current practice in child development centres in the UK

An observational study on current practice in child development centres in the UK has been published in the BMJ Journals of Paediatrics in November 2017, exploring the number of hours of professional time required to complete a diagnosis assessment of autism in children, based on current practice in secondary care child development centres across the UK.

The study analysed the results of online questionnaires sent to 20 child development centres, asking them to retrospectively record the time taken by team members involved at each stage of diagnosis assessment of autism in children, including report writing and administration for a typical assessment. As a result, the study was able to demonstrate that multidisciplinary diagnostic assessment of a child with possible autism requires significant professional time, with staff costs of approximately £800 ($1200) per child. This does not include costs of intervention, parent psychological education, investigation and assessment and management of comorbidities.

The study concluded that the funding for diagnostic services needs to reflect the human resources required as well as the resulting costs of this assessment, in order to avoid a growth of waiting times for diagnostic assessment.

You can view this article via the web link below.