THE concerns being expressed by occupational therapists in relation to new assessment of needs procedures for children with disabilities were raised in the Dáil by Fianna Fáil Deputy Margaret Murphy O’Mahony.
‘Specifically, occupational therapists are very concerned about the HSE’s implementation from this April 30th of the standard operating procedure for the assessment of need,’ she said. ‘Among other things, they say that 90 minutes is not a sufficient period of time to adequately assess the needs of children with disabilities and we are particularly concerned about the negative impact this aspect of the system will have on children and their families.’
In reply, Minister of State Finian McGrath said a revised standard operating procedure for assessment of need has been developed to ensure that there is a standardised approach to assessment across the whole country.
‘The purpose of this procedure is to ensure children with disabilities and their families access appropriate assessment and intervention as quickly as possible,’ he said. ‘Under the revised procedure, an assessment of need will comprise a preliminary team assessment that will identify initial interventions and any further assessments that may be required. The assessment will usually be undertaken by a children’s disability service. This service is composed of a number of health professionals, including occupational therapists, who will be tasked with delivering interventions. While not required under the Act, diagnostic assessments will continue to be provided, as appropriate, and any diagnosis will be captured in the child’s service statement as part of the assessment of need process.’