Across Medway there are many specialist services for children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND). 

View Medway Community Healthcare's community health services.

See our 2022 update and summary of our Local Transformation Plan for Children, Young People, and Young Adults’ Emotional Wellbeing and Mental Health, as well as a summary of the progress we have made since we last refreshed our plan in 2021.

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Annual health checks for young people with learning disabilities

People with a learning disability often have poorer physical and mental health than other people. An annual health check can improve a young person's health by spotting problems earlier.

Anyone over the age of 14 with a learning disability, is entitled to have an annual health check.

Find out more about annual health checks.

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)

ADHD is a condition which affects parts of the brain which control attention, impulses and concentration. It can have an impact on school, peer relationships, self-esteem and family life without appropriate treatment.

There are theories about ADHD that:

  • boys are more likely than girls to be diagnosed with ADHD
  • it can go unrecognised in girls
  • it tends to run in families suggesting it’s genetic
  • there are also dietary and environmental factors 
  • many children will have another condition as well as ADHD.

How to get an assessment or diagnosis

ADHD starts at a very young age but may not be diagnosed until later. It is more likely to be diagnosed during the school years when children are in an environment that places greater demands on them. Where they are trying to function in larger groups of children with less adult support.

There's no simple test to determine if your child has ADHD, but a specialist can make an accurate diagnosis after a detailed assessment.

Your GP or school can refer your child to a specialist for a formal assessment.

Where to get support

There are many services both locally and nationally to support you and your child including:

Find ADHD support services.

Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)

ASD is a lifelong developmental disability that affects how someone communicates, how they relate to other people and how they make sense of the world around them.

Autism is sometimes referred to as ASD. It's also recognised by the Royal College of Psychologists as Autism Spectrum Condition or ASC.

There are areas of difficulty that people with autism may share. These include:

  • social communication and interactions
  • restricted and repetitive behaviours
  • sensory processing differences.

Some people with autism can live independent lives but others may also have learning disabilities and need specialist support.

Where to get support

There are many services both locally and nationally to support you and your child. These include:

Find autism support services.

Complaints process

The complaints processes for the NHS services in Kent are very similar.

First of all, you need to find the provider of the service that you wish to complain about.

The complaints processes for the NHS providers in Kent & Medway are:

Kent & Medway Partnership Trust - Patient Advice and Liaison Service (PALS)


  • Phone: 0800 587 6757
  • Address: PALS and Complaints team (West Kent), Priority House, Hermitage Lane, Maidstone, Kent, ME16 9PH
  • Online complaints form.


  • Phone: 0800 783 9972
  • Address: PALS and Complaints team (East Kent), Eastern & Coastal Area Office, Littlebourne Road, Canterbury, Kent CT1 1AZ
  • Online complaints form.

MCH - Customer Experience Team

  • Phone: 0300 123 3444 (ask to speak to customer experience team)
  • Email:
  • Address: Customer Experience Team, Medway Community Healthcare, MCH House, Bailey Drive, Gillingham, Kent ME8 0PZ
  • MCH website.

Medway Foundation Trust

North East London Foundation Trust (NELFT) - Patient Advice and Liaison Service (PALS)

Continuing healthcare

Where a child or young person has SEND, the Integrated Care Board (ICB) and local authorities may co-ordinate an assessment. They may then agree a package of continuing care to develop the child or young person’s EHCP.

A continuing care package may be required when a child or young person has additional needs as a result of:

  • a disability
  • an accident
  • an illness that cannot be met by existing universal or specialist services alone.

When a young person approaches 18, Medway’s 0 to 25 Disability Team or a healthcare professional will revisit a checklist to see if continuing care funding is still needed at this stage. This assessment is done in consultation with the young person and their family or carer.

If it is, the young person will move over to the adult continuing health care service which will be reviewed annually.

Early identification and notification for pre-school children under 5

All children are individuals and you and your child may have already seen many people from different health services, such as:

  • GPs
  • hospital doctors
  • health visitors
  • paediatricians
  • speech and language therapists.

Your health professional might advise you that your child could benefit from additional support when they start in an early years setting.

If your child’s health needs could impact on them being able to access mainstream education without additional support, your health professional will need to inform us of this so that we can get the right support set up for your child.

Early information about your child helps us to plan ahead to meet their needs. This is called ‘early identification and notification’.

In accordance with section 3 of the Children and Families 2014 Act, health staff have a duty to notify us of any child under compulsory school age who they think may have special educational needs and/or disabilities (SEND) in order for the children to be supported appropriately.

Who can send a notification

All health professionals can send a notification, this may be a:

  • health visitor
  • audiologist
  • ophthalmologist
  • Children’s Community Nursing Team
  • consultant
  • therapist (speech therapist, physiotherapist, occupational therapist)
  • local paediatricians.

A health professional must inform you if they believe your child may have or is likely to have special educational needs and/or disabilities.

They will ask you to give your consent to them sharing this information with us.

You have a right to withhold consent to the sharing of your child’s information.

If you change your mind, consent can be given at any time whilst your child is under the age of 5.

Health professionals can complete the following form to let us know of preschool children who have or are likely to have a special educational need and/or disability.

Download the early identification and notification form.

Completing this form helps us, health services and commissioners, understand the future needs of children and young people with SEND, and plan the right provision.

It also helps us predict the future number of places needed in our special needs schools and build specialist capacity within mainstream schools.

Health visiting

Health visitors are qualified nurses who have undergone additional training in community public health nursing.

Within the teams are also:

  • community health nurses
  • nursery nurses
  • an oral health promoter
  • clinical support workers.

Health visitors work with families with young children (0-5 years old) to offer support and advice from pre-birth until they enter school full-time.

The health visiting service provides a crucial service to children and families to promote health by offering advice and guidance as needed.

Talk to a nurse or health visitor

Contact the duty line on 0300 123 3444, and choose option 4 between Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm.

Visit the Medway Community Healthcare website for more information.

Individual healthcare plans

Individual healthcare plans keep children and young people with medical conditions safe and well so they can play a full and active part in school life, stay healthy and fulfil their potential.

The plan sets out your child or young person’s medical needs and how they should be handled. This can help to make things easier for everyone involved in your child's care and education and helps ensure they can participate in school life.

Individual healthcare plans are written involving you, your child and young person and all the people who might need to contribute to a child's care while at school. Other people from outside the school might also be involved, depending on the level of your child's needs, such as the GP or school health service.

Individual healthcare plans are not the same as Education, Health and Care Plans (EHCPs) which set out the support needed by children with SEND, although some children may have both types of plan.

Download the Supporting pupils at school with medical conditions document.

School nursing

School nurses are multi-skilled professionals dedicated to improving the health and wellbeing of school aged children living in Medway.

The school health team at Medway Community Healthcare (MCH) is made up of:

  • specialist school nurses
  • school staff nurses
  • emotional wellbeing practitioners
  • specialist learning disability nurses
  • safeguarding nurses
  • national child measurement programme practitioners.

They offer support to children and families:

  • at school
  • in homes
  • in clinic settings
  • in the community.

Visit the MCH website for more information.

Service commissioning

The NHS Kent and Medway Integrated Care Board (ICB) is responsible for planning and buying healthcare services in the area. This is for all patients registered with its member GP practices and those who are not registered but are resident within Medway. This is known as ‘commissioning’.

They commission services including planned hospital care, urgent and emergency care, rehabilitation care, mental health and learning disability services and care in the community.

Services for everyone

Most health services are available to everyone and you do not need an assessment or referral to use them.

Many children and young people with SEND will have their needs met by services such as:

  • GPs
  • dentists
  • opticians
  • urgent care and walk-in centres
  • health visitors
  • school nurses.

Find your local health services.

If you are worried about your child's development there is lots of information available about different types of SEND.

Social, emotional and mental heath (SEMH)

It’s normal to feel emotional and have good and bad days. It’s normal even to feel lots of emotions in one day. But sometimes these emotions can be overwhelming, and can affect our mental health, which shows in our behaviour and relationships with other people.

Children and young people presenting with social, emotional, and mental health (SEMH) difficulties often struggle to manage their emotions and behaviour. They also find it difficult to make and keep relationships with adults and other children and young adults.

Typical characteristics of those with SEMH are:

  • withdrawn or isolated behaviour
  • anxiety
  • persistent low mood
  • disruptive and uncooperative behaviour
  • ‘unusual’ behaviour.

Children and young people with SEMH often struggle to engage in a learning environment. They will often benefit from additional support to reach their full potential.

It’s common for someone to feel low in mood from time to time. This can be dependent on life events, bereavements or struggles with learning. It’s important to consider factors which can affect a person’s mood and behaviour and be mindful of the length of time and frequency.

SEMH does not have to be a life-long condition. With appropriate support, children and young people can move forward in their development and live successful and happy lives.

If you’re worried about someone

If you’re concerned about a young person’s mental health and are not sure what extra help is needed, you can call the Kent and Medway Single Point of Access (SPA) on 0800 011 3474.

The SPA is there to help you explore the difficulties and find the most appropriate response.

If your concerns escalate about a child or young person, please call NHS 111 - mental health help 'Option 2'.

If a child or young person is in any immediate danger, or poses potential harm to others, call 999 or take them to A&E if possible.

SEMH support

There is national and local support available from:

Medway Young Persons’ Wellbeing Service (MYWS)

MYWS provides emotional wellbeing and mental health advice and support for young people and their families.

It offers advice and support for:

  • stress
  • low mood
  • depression
  • anxiety
  • self-harm and suicidal thoughts
  • difficult to manage behaviours (as well as support for neurodevelopmental difficulties such as ADHD or ASD).

The way in which support is offered differs from young person to young person depending on the type and severity of concern.

For some young people their emotional well-being may be having a significant impact on their day-to-day life and in these cases the YPWS may offer a short period of face-to-face or virtual support either in a one-to-one session or in a group.

All direct support options aim for young people to meet their own goals. These include:

  • online self–help
  • sign-posting to other organisations
  • crisis support
  • specialist assessments
  • face-to-face or virtual therapy either individually or in groups.

Young people who have been discharged can refer themselves back into the service at any time.

Online SEMH support for children or young people

If you're a young person or you know of a young person looking for support, here are some useful organisations that might be helpful:

  • Moodspark is for young people aged 10 to 16 to learn to look after their emotional and mental health
  • ThinkNinja is the first mental health app approved by the NHS to support the mental health and emotional wellbeing of children and young people during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. It's now listed in the NHS apps library and is available for 10 to 18 year olds
  • Togetherall is available for 16 to 18 year olds with an online community filled with resources, information and online counselling
  • Kooth is for young people 10 to 25 to get advice and information. You can also chat to a qualified counsellor
  • ChatHealth supports those aged 11 to 19 struggling with their emotions. Text chathealth to 07520 618 850 for mental health support and help
  • Good Health Matters can support a child or young person to make small changes to support their mental health
  • Kent Resilience Hub has lots of information and resources on who to contact for help in Kent and Medway.

Online support for parents

Many people experiencing a mental health problem will speak to friends and family before they speak to a health professional, so the support you can offer them can be valuable.

  • QWell is for adults aged 18 and over to get advice and information. You can also chat to a qualified counsellor
  • Mind have produced a guide for carers supporting those with mental health conditions
  • Samaritans can be contacted for free on 116 123 for 24 hour support. They also offer support by email, letter and face-to-face
  • BBC Bitesize have produced 4 steps to chatting with your child about their mental health and 5 tips in coping with lockdown as a single parent
  • Find out more about the Mental Capacity Act, to see how it can protect yours and your child's rights to make their own decisions
  • Find out from Mencap how to communicate and help a child or a young person understand bereavement.

Specialist services

Parents and carers may need support from specialist services if they cannot give their child all the care they need. This could be due to:

  • complex healthcare needs
  • life threatening conditions
  • profound disabilities
  • a child's need for safeguarding.

To get support from specialist services, a child or young person’s disability must be permanent and substantial and impact their ability to do daily activities and impact their family’s wellbeing.

Specialist health services

Learning Disabilities nursing provides support to children and families who have a developmental delay or a learning disability, specialising in behaviour, sleep and continence.

Child Health services offer therapy and health services for children and young people requiring complex intervention from 0 to 19 years.

Targeted services

Children and young people with a disability or complex needs may need help from targeted services.

These services are designed to support and treat people with certain conditions. You will normally need to be assessed and referred to the service by professionals such as your GP, child’s school, health visitor or social worker.

Targeted services include:

Children and young people with SEND may need to be supported by one or more of these services at some time in their life.