Starfish LD CAMHS and Starfish+


Starfish+ is a specialist learning disability service that provides an intensive multi-disciplinary therapeutic approach to children and young people up to 18 years.

The service supports a small number of children and young people with learning disabilities when things have become very difficult for the child and their family due to complex and significant behaviour that is challenging and /or complex mental health needs. This means that we work with children with a learning disability who need a higher level of intervention (such as visits 2-3 times a week or every day if needed) and from more than one person (such as seeing a psychologist and a speech therapist and a family support worker) for a short time to help things improve for the child and for everyone around them.

Starfish+ believes that every child with a learning disability deserves the same opportunities as all children; to live at home, to go to school, to have friends and hobbies and to have good relationships with their families. Children are usually referred to Starfish+ when things have become very difficult and people are wondering if the child needs to live somewhere else (such as a residential school) or needs an assessment in a hospital (under the mental health act). We aim to provide an alternative in a crisis situation working with others to prevent unplanned moves, children living away from home or children living a long way away from home.

Who we are

Starfish+ is made up of four team members; a clinical psychologist and speech and language therapist and two family support workers. Starfish+ work closely in partnership with parents, carers and other professionals who may be involved (such as schools, social workers, short breaks services etc). We work in many different places depending on what we think is most helpful for the child; this might be at home, in schools, in short break settings or out in the community.

How we can help

Starfish+ will offer a range of things depending on the needs of each individual child. This usually involves a short term risk assessment and crisis plan if needed, a detailed assessment of the child’s need and a detailed understanding of the factors which have led to the current situation, followed by an intervention plan for the child. Interventions could be communication interventions, psychological interventions including direct therapy with the child, or working with everyone around the child to develop a clear intervention plan. Parents identify their main concerns and goals and this is used to guide the assessment and intervention. We review our role regularly with the child family and everyone else involved.

Starfish+ unfortunately does not offer an “on call” system or out of hours cover. Starfish+ will work with children, their families and others to develop a clear plan about what to do in an emergency and out of hours.


Starfish+ accepts referrals from anyone who thinks that a child may need a referral to the service. Most of our referrals come from complex needs schools or children with disabilities social work teams but can come from anywhere including young people themselves or their families. Referrals are made by contacting the team directly (by telephone) and having an initial conversation about the child and the current situation.

For more information please contact:

Dr Melanie Bruce
Clinical Psychologist and Lead for Starfish+
Blithemeadow Court


Tel: 01553 668 514