Referrals to Children’s and Adults’ Services

There are several ways to support families, even if you are inexperienced in dealing with some of the Think Family issues.

In the first instance, speak to your supervisor, line manager and/or designated safeguarding officer for advice; identify and record:

  1. The names and ages of any children and young people in the family and their relationship to the adults in their family, whether they live with them or not;
  2. The names and relationship of any vulnerable adults in the family;
  3. Parenting and caring responsibilities (whether an Adult or a Young Carer);
  4. Which other services for children and adults are currently involved with the family.

Discuss any concerns with the family and make a judgement about whether other services need to become involved. You will need the family’s consent to make referrals to other services for children or vulnerable adults unless this places a child or vulnerable adult at increased risk of significant harm. The best interests of the child and/or vulnerable adult must be the overriding concern.

There is a list of local and national agencies on the Resources page.


Services working with Adults

Unless it places children at increased risk, it is important to engage with and involve parents to reduce the risk of harm to children. The parent will be more likely to engage if they feel that they are not losing control of what happens next.

Services working with adults will, throughout their involvement:

  1. identify at an early stage any children within families and specifically those with a caring responsibility;
  2. ensure, when assessing adults’ needs, that any support to help their parenting role is taken into account;
  3. retain a family focus, ensuring that they are not focusing solely on the adult, making the children ‘invisible’;
  4. understand that although parental mental ill-health, learning disability or drug and alcohol problems, especially in combination with domestic abuse, does increase the risk that children may be harmed, it is not a predictor of harm or neglect;
  5. invite representatives from Children’s Services or other services to multi-professional care planning meetings where they are involved with the family, with the agreement of the service use;
  6. provide a representative to attend Child Protection Conferences where at all possible or at the very least, provide a report;
  7. ensure they are kept informed about plans for any children and incorporate these into future care planning.

If it becomes apparent that a change of circumstances has occurred or the parent is not complying with services and this raises concern about the welfare of the child or there is a concern that the child is at risk of significant harm, a referral should be made to Children’s Services (social care) in order that the appropriate action can be taken. These concerns may include:

  • failure to attend for appointments;
  • failure to allow access for home visits;
  • avoidance of practitioners;
  • homelessness or family network breakdown;
  • deterioration in mental health, physical health, more chaotic drug and alcohol usage;
  • introduction of a new adult, child or young person into the home situation;
  • change of circumstances which may impact on risk or resilience. Please refer to the Threshold Document for guidance.

Referrals to Adult Services Health and Social Care

Discussions and referrals

If you want to discuss care and support for adults with possible care and support needs or make a referral you can contact Care Direct. If there is uncertainty about whether an adult meets the eligibility threshold for Adult Social Care, please contact

Ring Care Direct - 0117 922 2700 or make a referral with their online referral form

Safeguarding concerns

If there are concerns about immediate neglect or harm to a vulnerable adult (who is vulnerable due to age, frailty, mental health, physical disability, ill health, learning disability, dementia, alcohol or substance misuse), then contact Direct immediately on the phone number and follow the local Safeguarding Adults procedures and if urgent call 999.

Ring Care Direct - 0117 922 2700

Professional advice and consultation

If, rather than making a referral, you want to seek professional advice and consultation regarding support and care for an adult with possible health and social care needs you can also contact Care Direct.

Ring Care Direct - 0117 922 2700

Accessing community health services

Intermediate care within Bristol includes a range of services that Bristol Community Health provides in partnership with Bristol City Council’s Health and Social Care Team. Intermediate care includes rapid response, community rehabilitation and re-ablement, residential centres, and hospital based teams. Rapid Response, who offer care for those who are suffering from acute episodes of illness visit patients in their own home or place of residence for up to 7 days. They also have hospital based teams that provide a link with Intermediate Care Services in the community and help to facilitate the discharge of patients from hospital care.

Rapid Response Referrals

To refer call the Single Point of Access (SPA) on 0117 903 0202. This telephone line is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Accessing the Primary Care Liaison Service(PCLS) for mental health

Primary Care Liason Service for Mental Health is essentially accessible to professionals or referrals can go via the GP. SPA can send secure emails or make telephone referrals to PCLS.

Contact details can be found here.

Child Care issues

Consideration should be made to child care issues including for parents to access treatment, especially in school holidays to ensure there are no barriers to treatment

and that the child’s needs are also being met. 

Professionals should consider:

  • whether the parent needs childcare support to access treatment;
  • what childcare arrangements need to be in place for the parents to access inpatient or residential rehab;
  • who is offering the child support;
  • whether the patient needs support getting the child to and from nursery or school;
  • what the child’s understanding is of the parents treatment;
  • whether the parent needs support in explaining what is happening;
  • whether a referral to a young carer’s service needs to be considered.