Access to Health Services

Finding out your child has a disability:

You might have a lot of questions when you find out that your child has a disability. A diagnosis or professional report is useful, it should give you clarity regarding your child’s situation and identify particular challenges. It should be a help to you as you make decisions about supports and school places.

But it is important to remember that a diagnosis or report does not change who your child is, their unique personality or strengths. Take time to find out what your child’s strengths are, what they enjoy, what interests them. That is what often directs us to where we do best.

First Steps:


  • Talk to your Family Doctor or local Public Health Nurse. They can provide information and refer you to services.
  • Your child does not need an Assessment of Need to access health services. You can apply directly to Children’s Disability Network Team in your area.
  • Under the Disability Act 2005 you also have a right to apply for an assessment of your child’s needs or AON.
  • The HSE Children’s Disability Supports and Services and the Citizens Information Caring for a Child with Disability webpages set out useful first steps and provide links to services and supports.
  • Contact a local family support group in your area. Our Connect Family Network Map lists over 100 national and local intellectual disability support groups.

Assessment of Need

If a parent or guardian believes that their child may have a disability, they may apply to the Health Service Executive to carry out an assessment of their health needs arising from their disability. Your child does not need an Assessment of Need to access health services. You can apply directly to Children’s Disability Network Team in your area.

A young person aged 16 or 17 years can apply for their own Assessment of Need.

Any child or young adult born after June 1st, 2002 is eligible to apply for an assessment, regardless of age.


Cross Border Healthcare

Ireland is bound by the EU, Cross Border Healthcare Directive.

Any Irish citizen who is on a waiting list for treatment can access this health service abroad in another EU state. The cost of this health service will be refunded by the HSE. You will need a referral letter from your GP, consultant or another clinical professional.

Some of the services that can be accessed include psychology, occupational therapy, physiotherapy and speech and language therapy.

The service you wish to access must be publicly available in Ireland.

If you want to access treatment abroad you need to fill out a form, get a referral letter and send it to the HSE. You will get approval in approx. 15 working days.

You must pay for the treatment up front and claim back the costs. There is a special invoice available from the HSE for this.

Ensure that you have prior approval before paying for treatment abroad.

Further information
HSE Cross Border Directive: Get Healthcare Abroad

Progressing Disability Services for Children and Young People

“Progressing Disability Services for Children and Young People’ is an HSE programme which aims to achieve a single national approach to delivering disability health services. There should be a clear pathway to services for all children regardless of where they live, what school they go to or the nature of their disability or delay. The programme also aims to ensure that children receive the health services they need as close to their home and school as possible.

Access to Health Services – Progressing Disability Services for Children

New Directions – HSE Guidance for Adult Day Services

The HSE funds day services and personal support services for adults with disabilities. The New Directions report recommends person-centeredness, community inclusion, active citizenship, and high-quality service provision. This means living and working in ordinary places, access to local services and facilities at ordinary times, community life and association.

Access to Health Services – New Directions

List of Adult Day Services with Service Contact Details