Objectives: To examine the Laois/Offaly Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS), focusing on new referrals and trends in the service.
Methods: Data was collected over a one-year period from July 1, 2008 to June 30, 2009 using the computer system MAISY (Medical Audit Information System) and through chart reviews. A Client Satisfaction Survey was administered to both parents and children.
Results: The Laois/Offaly CAMHS team provides service to a total population of around 140,000, of which around 32,000 are less than 16 years old. In this one-year period, 303 referrals were received with 167 offered an assessment, of which 150 availed of an appointment. Forty-six percent were offered appointments within one week of receiving the referral with 87% being assessed within one month. A further 41 were assessed from a previous waiting list, compiled prior to the actual study period, thus resulting in a total of 191 assessments.
Thirty referrals required assessment only. Behavioural/Emotional difficulties and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) were the most common reason for referral. During this time the ADHD waiting list was suspended due to staff constraints. Seventy-six percent were diagnosed with an Axis I disorder with 34% given medication treatment. Of the return appointments over the year, eight percent of patients did not attend (DNA). Both parents and children reported being satisfied with the service, according to the Client Satisfaction Survey.
Conclusions: The Laois/Offaly team services a catchment area of approximately three times the number recommended by A Vision for Change, with a staff equivalent less than the number recommended for one whole team. The team was able to provide a rapid service for assessment of new referrals, with the ADHD waiting list suspended. Axis I pathology was often diagnosed among those assessed (around 75%), with about one-third being treated with medication. Follow-up appointments achieved a high attrition rate, with only around eight percent not attending. Patient satisfaction with the service rated high by both parents and children.