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Occupational Therapy for Children - for families registered with a GP in West Sussex.

What is Occupational Therapy?

Occupational Therapists help children and young people to achieve or maintain their independence at home, nursery or school. The role of the Occupational Therapist is to support the development of functional skills. Functional skills are the skills used to carry out everyday activities (or occupations). The overall aim is to help the child or young person do the things that they need, want or are expected to do to participate in daily life. 

This might include:

  • Self-care tasks such as getting dressed, eating independently or using the toilet.
  • Participating in activities at nursery or school such as painting, using a pencil or scissors, sitting on the carpet.
  • Playing with friends or participating in hobbies.

Click here to view the Royal College of Occupational Therapy Children and Young People Leaflet

How is the children’s occupational therapy service delivered?

We recognise the importance of working in partnership with parents and carers and the child’s education setting to maximise a child’s practical skills and independence.  This may include supporting the child or young person to carry out an activity programme that the service recommends or making sure specific strategies are included in their daily home and school routine.  Advice may also include examples of how to change everyday tasks so that they are easier for the child or young person to do and suggestions for equipment to use to help them.

Universal Resources

This is the first stage of support and includes information and resources that are available to everyone without the need for a referral. A range of advice, information and resources for families and professionals is available through this website in our Resources section below.

Services Requiring a Referral

This level of support is for children and young people who require a little more help or more specialist assessment and intervention. This may involve a time limited period of assessment, treatment or targeted advice, and may be provided within the home, clinic or education setting.  A referral is required to access this level of support.  In most cases we will require evidence that universal resources have been explored and strategies have been tried prior to making a referral.  

Please see the Referrals section below for further details.


Universal support and advice

The following resources are designed to provide support and advice for children and young people who are experiencing difficulties with practical skills and this is affecting how they participate in everyday activities.  The resources should be used as a pre-referral problem solving tool to ensure that strategies have been tried before a referral to Occupational Therapy is made.

These resources packs and video series are intended as a guide only and a referral to the Occupational Therapy service should be considered if:

  • The need appears more complex or the solutions offered have been trialled and there is no obvious improvement.
  • The child has an identified neurological condition which may require more specialist support.
  • The child has a degenerative condition and their needs are changing.

Click here to download the Occupational Therapy Resource Pack for Primary Schools  

Sensory videos 

Please find below our sensory video series made by SCFT Occupational Therapists covering a range of practical advice.

There are 18 short videos on different topics:

  1. Introduction to Occupational Therapy
  2. What is Sensory Processing
  3. Sensory Modulation
  4. Is it Sensory?
  5. General Strategies
  6. Calming Strategies
  7. Alerting Strategies
  8. Feeding
  9. Sleep
  10. Toothbrushing
  11. Clothing
  12. Sitting Still
  13. Chewing
  14. Noise
  15. Bathing and Showering
  16. Hair Care
  17. Nail Care
  18. Smell

We recommend that the videos are watched in sequence. In total, it should take around an hour and a half to watch all the videos.

After watching the videos please use the Sensory Resource Pack linked below. This includes lots of activity ideas to support your child / student and answers some FAQs.

Click here to download the  SCFT Sensory Resource Pack

The following resources may also be helpful. Education settings may wish to outline strategies which have been implemented when referring. Strategies may include universally available programmes such as handwriting programmes, Jump Ahead, Zones of Regulation or Sensory Circuits. Some education setting related resources are available via the links below:

SEND toolkit | Tools for schools (local-offer.org)

Physical and sensory – including medical needs | Tools for schools

Graduated-Approach-to-Services-for-Schools-6.10.22.pdf (local-offer.org)


The Children’s Occupational Therapy Service accept referrals from healthcare and education professionals.  Parents can “re-refer” if the child or young person has previously been seen by an SCFT Occupational Therapist within the last two years by contacting the service directly.

School aged referrals should include evidence of universal strategies already tried at home and within the education setting to address the areas of concern.  Universal support should be implemented for a period of at least 3 months (or one school term) prior to a referral being made.  Please refer to the Resources – Universal support and advice section above. Exceptions to this may include children with more complex physical needs or identified neurological conditions. 

We accept referrals for the following:

  • Child/young person 0- 18 years (up to 19 if in special education) living in West Sussex and/or is registered with a West Sussex GP, who presents with at least three functional difficulties that are impacting upon participation in everyday activities.

Making a referral

  • In order to avoid delay, please include evidence of universal strategies having been trialled prior to a referral being made. Exceptions to this may include children with more complex physical needs or identified neurological conditions. 
  • For children with specific sensory difficulties, we ask that you watch the video series and implement appropriate strategies for at least 3 months. If difficulties persist with no obvious improvement being made, then a referral to the service should be considered.
  • For accepted referrals an acknowledgement letter is sent to the referrer and the child’s parents / carers.

Referrals will not be accepted if:

  • The referral is incomplete or there is not enough information to make a clinical decision.
  • The referral reasons given do not meet the referral criteria for the Occupational Therapy Service.
  • A letter stating why the referral has not been accepted will be sent to the referrer and the child’s parents / carers.

We are unable to accept referrals for the following:

  • Ayres Sensory Integration (ASI) Therapy
  • Where the primary need is related to social, emotional and mental health difficulties. Please consider a referral to CAMHS or The Integrated Front Door For Families. Please see links below:

Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS)

The West Sussex Integrated Front Door (IFD)

Additional support to address social, emotional and mental health difficulties is available via the following local services:

Emotional wellbeing information and support - West Sussex County Council

Mental Health Support Team in Schools - West Sussex Services for Schools

Youth Emotional Support Service (YES) - West Sussex County Council

Contact Details and Referral Forms

Please use the following links and email or post the completed referral form to the West Sussex Children’s Occupational Therapy service. You will find the contact details for your local team below.

Central Area Children’s Occupational Therapy services

Nightingale Primary Care Centre

Mid Sussex Child Development Centre - 2nd Floor

Butlers Green Road

Haywards Heath

West Sussex

RH16 4BN

Tel: 01444 414100

Email: SC-TR.ChildrensOTMidSussex@nhs.net 


Referral Form:  OT Referral Form - Haywards Heath

Crawley Child Development Centre

Crawley Hospital

West Green Drive


West Sussex

RH11 7DH

Tel: 01293 600300 Ext. 3682

Hilltop Children’s Unit

Horsham Hospital

Hurst Road


West Sussex

RH12 2DR

Tel: 01403 227000

Email: SC-TR.ChildrensOTNorth@nhs.net

Referral Form: OT Referral Form - Crawley and Horsham

Coastal Area Children’s Occupational Therapy services

Worthing Child Development Centre

Worthing Hospital

Lyndhurst Road


West Sussex

BN11 2DH

Tel: 01903 286716

Email: SC-TR.PaedOTWorthing@nhs.net

Referral Form:  OT Referral Form - Worthing

Chichester Child Development Centre

Westhampnett Centre

28-29 Westhampnett Road


West Sussex

PO19 7HH

Tel: 01243 793641

Email: SC-TR.PaedOTChichester@nhs.net

Referral Form:  OT Referral Form - Chichester

 Additional information and services

  • Requests for an Education Health Care Needs Assessment should be directed to the West Sussex SEN Assessment Team:

 West Sussex SEN Assessment Team - West Sussex County Council

 Additional impartial advice and support is available here:

 West Sussex SENDIAS Service

  • For children and young people who are at high risk of or have experienced a breakdown in their educational placement. Referrals should be directed to: 

Intensive Planning Team | West Sussex Local Offer (local-offer.org) 

 Additional advice to support Emotional Based School Avoidance is available to schools via the EBSA toolkit:

Emotionally Based School Avoidance | West Sussex Services for Schools

  • Children and young people who require a housing report or assessment for changes to be made to the home environment and/or equipment provision should be referred to the WSCC Lifelong Occupational Therapy Team:

Occupational therapy support for children - West Sussex County Council 

  • Service Location:
    • Chichester
    • Crawley
    • Haywards Heath
    • Horsham
    • Littlehampton
    • Midhurst
    • Pulborough
    • Shoreham
    • Steyning
    • Worthing
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