‘True early intervention’ in childhood leads to best outcomes

Morgan Liotta

10/11/2021 3:55:53 PM

A new resource arms GPs with practical information on the early-childhood approach to help connect families with the right level of support.

GP talking to young girl
According to experts, ‘true early intervention’ starts as soon as it is identified there may be developmental issues in children.

When it comes to developmental delay and disability, early diagnosis and childhood intervention is ‘the name of the game’, according to Dr James Best, Chair of RACGP Specific Interests Child and Young Person’s Health.
New guidelines from the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) build on this model of care, recommending early referral rather than a ‘wait and see’ approach.
As part of NDIS resources developed to help GPs support their patients to access the scheme, Early childhood approach: A guide for health professionals focuses on interventions to achieve best practice and patient outcomes.
According to the new guide, not all developmental delay in children will present with red flags, and although a slower approach can be tempting, ‘true early intervention’ starts as soon as potential issues are identified.
Complementing an existing suite of resources to support patients accessing the NDIS, the guide aims to educate GPs and other health professionals about the benefits of the early childhood approach, facilitating their important role in connecting families and carers to supports and services as early as possible.
The guide endorses early intervention as the best-practice approach, recommending health professionals refer children younger than seven who they believe may benefit from early intervention. Criteria include children experiencing developmental delay, concerns or disability, including how the child plays or moves around, takes care of themselves, socialises with other children, and communicates.
The guide simplifies the necessary steps.
Following discussion with a family and their child, if the GP finds that early intervention support will improve the child’s outcomes, they can refer them directly to an NDIS early childhood partner.
According to the NDIS, early childhood partners provide early connections − regardless of whether they may be eligible for an individual NDIS plan.
Children younger than seven with developmental delay or disability do not need to be an NDIS participant in order to receive support through early connections. However, if the early childhood partner identifies that the child would benefit from longer-term, funded early childhood intervention supports, the child must meet the NDIS access criteria for early intervention or disability in order to become an NDIS participant.
‘NDIS access becomes relevant when a child with delay or disability would clearly benefit from a coordinated, long-term, multidisciplinary service response,’ the guide states.
Referral to an early childhood partner ensures families are connected to information, services and supports in their community, as well as other families with similar experiences. They can also help families apply to the NDIS if they meet the eligibility criteria and connect them to early childhood providers.
Short- and long-term interventions are also identified by early childhood partners.
Where appropriate, the NDIS recommends referral to other parallel specialists in parallel, enabling the family to access supports from the early childhood partner while waiting for further assessment.
Early childhood approach: A guide for health professionals is available on the NDIS website and the RACGP NDIS resources page.
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Dr Henry Arthur Berenson   11/11/2021 8:32:38 AM

Even when you make the early connections, entry for public patients remains gridlocked