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We are the provider for the NHS children’s community occupational therapy service in West Essex which includes Harlow, Epping and Uttlesford District.

The West Essex Children’s Occupational Therapy service supports children and young people with physical, sensory impairments, developmental and cognitive needs that impact on their daily life.

We support families across West Essex in a variety of settings, including clinics, Family Hubs, schools/nurseries and your home.

Occupational therapists deliver services from:

St Margaret’s Hospital in Epping
Child Development Centre in Harlow
Herts and Essex Hospital in Bishop Stortford

Services are also delivered in:

Harlow Fields Special School
Oak View Special School

Child development

All children and young people have a very important job to do. They have to grow, learn, socialise and play. Children do this every day by exploring the boundaries of their abilities. When they’re successful, they develop and thrive and the sense of achievement they get usually makes them happy.

Children and young people with learning, physical, sensory, developmental, and cognitive difficulties can have their ability to grow, learn, socialise and play delayed.

They might find it difficult to cope with basic functional activities like getting dressed or brushing their teeth. At school, they may struggle with activities such as writing, cutting or participating in PE.

What do occupational therapist do?

Occupational therapists work with children and young people, parents/carers and teachers to find solutions that minimise the difficulties children face, because we recognise that you know your child best.

After an initial assessment we will help you identify goals with your child to work on, we will use play and various activities to work on a variety of skills. We will also provide parents/carers with strategies to work towards achieving these goals. Where appropriate we will assess for equipment that may be needed to maximise independence and postural development.

Guidance and helpful information

If you are concerned that your child is experiencing difficulties with two or more functional activities, you should speak to your GP, school SENCO or health professional about whether a referral to the occupational therapy service would be valuable.

Examples of functional difficulties are:

  • Dressing/undressing, managing the planning and fastenings
  • Using cutlery and feeding self
  • Self-care: washing, brushing teeth, bathing
  • Balance (jumping, hopping, skipping)
  • Ball skills (throwing, catching, kicking)
  • Drawing & writing
  • Using scissors
  • Posture – sitting (floor, chair), standing
  • Following instructions
  • Organisation – finding way around, retrieving correct books, layout of work in school books

There are tools and strategies that can be used at home to help children and young people who have difficulties which might require help from occupational therapists. You could view the help pages to the right and try the toolkits below with your child over the course of a few months.

Referral Information

This service accepts referrals for Children and Young People who are registered with a West Essex GP.

To be eligible for a referral, the young person must demonstrate, age appropriate functional difficulties in two or more areas. Difficulties might be self-care tasks, school work, or accessing play and leisure activities, and are impacting significantly on their daily life.

Referral form for preschool children

Following triage and acceptance of referral,  parents/ carers will be offered an initial telephone/ video call to gather information and look at appropriate strategies. Possible outcomes could include:

  • Face to face at nursery/preschool/ home
  • programme/advice to support goals

Referral form for school age children

Following triage and acceptance of referral, an initial assessment appointment will be offered in clinic to gather information and complete assessments/ observations. Possible outcomes could include:

  • School liaison – telephone call with SENCo or observation in class/PE
  • Programme/advice to support goals
  • Group work

Referral form for children with sensory difficulties only (i.e. function not impacted by any other physical difficulties).

If your referral is accepted you will be offered an initial telephone appointment to discuss your child’s sensory needs.

Support you may be offered:

  • More specific sensory strategies to support your child’s ongoing sensory needs
  • Liaison with your child’s nursery or school

What happens after a referral is made

We will contact you if we require more information about your child. As we’re not the only occupational therapy provider in Essex, and depending on the difficulties your child is experiencing, we may need to arrange that the request is forwarded to another provider.

If we accept your child’s referral we will aim to see them within 18 weeks, but there may be variations to this timeline. While you wait to be seen, you could trial the strategies in the toolkits, if appropriate, and recording progress will benefit your child as you can share these results with us during your assessme

Preschool Toolkit

School Age Toolkit