Pilot scheme launched to tackle children and young people’s sleep issues

The Sleep Charity, an award-winning voluntary organisation based in Doncaster, has been commissioned to provide a sleep support service for children and young people in Scarborough, parts of Ryedale and Whitby.

This is a 12-month pilot project and was set up by the former NHS Scarborough and Ryedale Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG)*.

Families living in Scarborough and some parts of Ryedale (the area formerly covered by NHS Scarborough and Ryedale CCG) are eligible to access the service, along with children and young people living in the Whitby district.

If the pilot scheme is successful, NHS North Yorkshire CCG will consider expanding the service. As capacity is limited, initial priority will be given to children and young people who are being prescribed melatonin and may have previously accessed behavioural support services, but a variety of support options will be able through this service for everyone who is referred.

Dr Peter Billingsley, Scarborough GP and NHS North Yorkshire CCG Clinical Lead for vulnerable people, said: “Poor sleep can be debilitating and distressing for families and can lead to a number of physical and mental health issues which require intervention.

“The Sleep Charity’s work with other CCGs has made a huge difference to families and has in some cases reduced the need for interventions such as the prescribing of medication like melatonin.

“I’m looking forward to seeing what The Sleep Charity can do during this pilot project and I would encourage any parent whose child is currently being prescribed melatonin to speak to their GP about this service, or self-refer directly to The Sleep Charity if they just want access to general help and advice.”

Vicki Dawson, Chief Executive Officer of The Sleep Charity, said: “Quality sleep is essential for children’s growth and development yet up to 40 per cent of children and young people will experience a sleep problem at some point in their childhood. These problems are typically persistent and do not resolve themselves without intervention.

“A decent night’s sleep will help children to do better at school, allow them to react more quickly to situations, have a more developed memory and solve problems. Plus, it makes them less susceptible to colds and other minor ailments, less irritable and better behaved.

“Sleep deprivation causes increased hyperactivity and other behavioural problems, as well as damaging physical and mental development. Poor sleep habits from an early age can lead to long term sleep problems.”

The Sleep Charity will provide appropriate sleep advice and support for parents/carers of disabled and non-disabled children aged 12 months to 18 years of age. Those with a Special Education Need or Disability and/or Education Health Care Plan will have access to the service up to their 25th birthday.

For families in Scarborough, Whitby and parts of Ryedale, the sleep service includes providing online one-to-one sleep clinics and developing sleep plans with parents/carers to help address the identified sleep issue and establish a regular night-time sleep pattern. All families will have follow-up support and where needed, will be referred to primary and secondary care for any medical investigations.

Vicki added: “Our behavioural and cognitive approach to sleep, rather than the use of medication, has been shown to increase the sleep of a child by 2.4 hours per night. We will be training practitioners in the area with the necessary skills to provide effective advice and guidance on sleep as part of their day-to-day role and to help parents who often report high levels of stress and irritability in their children.”

To find out more about the service please visit www.thesleepcharity.org.uk.

Families can self-refer or speak to their GP. Referrals can be accepted from the 12 practices formerly associated with NHS Scarborough and Ryedale CCG and those in the Whitby area, for children age 12 months upwards, by telephone or text to Claire on 07568 052300 or by email to claire@thesleepcharity.org.uk