How we work

This section explains the differences between Primary Care services, Children’s Disability Network Teams (CDNTs) and Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS/CAMHS-ID).

Primary Care

Primary Care services are usually the first point of contact when a parent or guardian is worried about their child’s development. Many children with delays in their development can have their needs met by their local Primary Care services.

Primary Care services include Public Health Nursing, Psychology, Speech and Language Therapy, Occupational Therapy, Physiotherapy, Social Work and Community Health Doctors.

Primary Care services work as multidisciplinary teams. They are made up of different disciplines and each team member will independently treat the child focusing on the area they specialise in, for example, speech and language therapy or occupational therapy. 

The teams will have agreed policies and procedures for working together and for communication. They will work with the family and child to meet their identified needs using individual discipline care and support plans. When working together, they use a joint care and support plan.

Children’s Disability Network Teams (CDNTs)

CDNTs address the needs of children with a wide range of disabilities including, but not limited to, intellectual disability, physical disability, sensory disability and autism.

CDNTs typically include the following on their team: Occupational therapists (OTs), psychologists, physiotherapists (physios), social workers and speech and language therapists (SLTs). CDNTs may also have access to: behaviour support specialists, clinical nurse specialists (CNS), dietitians, early educators and therapy assistants. 

They work within an interdisciplinary framework. This means that they work together and share information, decision-making, and goal-setting. They have common policies and procedures and frequent opportunities for communication. They work with the family and child, all of whom are seen as part of the team. Together, they create a joint care and support plan.

A child’s access to CDNT services will be based on their needs, so a diagnosis is not required to be referred to a CDNT.

See this section, Our Teams, to learn more about how CDNTs work with families.

Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) and Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services in Intellectual Disability (CAMHS-ID)

CAMHS is available for all young people (up to the age of 18) who are experiencing mental health difficulties that affect their ability to function in day-to-day activities.

CAMHS-ID is a specialist mental health service for children and teenagers who have a moderate to profound intellectual disability and a moderate to severe mental disorder.

The CAMHS-ID team aims to complement the services provided by Primary Care, CDNTs, and community CAMHS.

Children and young people are usually supported by the CAMHS-ID team for a limited period of time. As the child's mental health improves, the CAMHS-ID team will discharge back to Primary Care and/or the CDNT with a recovery plan for staying well and how to access the team again if needed.

CAMHS-ID teams consist of multidisciplinary team members such as psychiatrists, psychologists, clinical nurse specialists, social workers, occupational therapists (OTs), speech and language therapists (SLTs) and administrators.

Working in consultation

Primary Care services and the CDNTs work in consultation and a child may transfer from one service to the other, if needed.

A small number of children with very complex needs will need a level of expertise which may not solely be met by Primary Care or the CDNT. In that case, specialist services will be developed to support and work with Primary Care and the CDNT to meet the needs of this group of children.

As mentioned above, the CAMHS/CAMHS-ID service aims to complement the work of Primary Care and CDNTs. There are various protocols and forums which assist joint working across CAMHS/CAMHS-ID, Primary Care and CDNTs.

Referrals into these three services

Click here to find out how to refer a child to any of these services.