Health Visitors are nurses or midwives who work with pregnant women through to a child’s fifth birthday. They help families adjust to being new parents, and provide information and reassurance to support a baby or young child’s health, wellbeing and development. They can help with child development, infant feeding, immunisations, emotional health and wellbeing, healthy weight and physical activity, parenting and local support groups, behaviour and sleep. Health Visitors are sometimes supported by Community Nursery Nurses who have skills using play to improve child development and behaviour management.
School Nurses work with 5 to 19 year olds, in both schools and those who are educated at home. They are responsible for routine health checks and giving healthcare advice and support. This could be supporting children and young people with some on-going or specific health needs such as children with complex health needs or a learning or physical disability. They also run school-based drop-in clinics in Somerset secondary schools covering health information, sexual health services, mental health, alcohol, smoking and substance misuse and healthy lifestyles.
General Practitioners (GPs)
General Practitioners (GPs) treat all common medical conditions for all ages and refer patients to hospitals and other medical services for urgent and specialist treatment. Some GPs may develop a special interest in a specific area, but they are still expected to keep up to date in all areas relevant to their work not only medical conditions but also business matters, social care factors and other areas. A GP Registrar is a GP in training, who will have already completed between 7 and 9 years of training.
They are usually the best place to start if you or a member of your family has a health concern. GPs usually work in practices as part of a team that includes nurses, healthcare assistants, practice managers, receptionists, and other staff. Practices also work closely with other healthcare professionals, such as health visitors, midwives, mental health services and social care.
Occupational Therapists (OTs) help children develop everyday skills, such as feeding themselves, getting dressed and playing. They help people to improve basic skills through special exercises, by adapting the way they are supported by others, or by designing new ways to perform the tasks they want to. There are also some OTs who work within the Local Authority who can help with supportive equipment and building adaptations to help children and young people in their homes or in their educational setting.
Speech and Language Therapists
Speech and Language Therapists (SLT or SALT) diagnose and treat problems of understanding, communicating and speaking and can also help with swallowing and eating difficulties. They will first assess the problems through observation, talking to you or by using relevant tests. The therapist will then devise a treatment plan that may involve activities, exercises and use of strategies to help.
Physiotherapists help with children’s movement skills and physical mobility. Their exercise and manual therapy helps to restore movement and function when someone is affected by injury, illness or disability.
Paediatricians are doctors who have specialist qualifications in all aspects of children’s health and development. They are responsible for children when they are admitted to a hospital ward as well as running outpatient clinics. Some paediatricians specialise in particular health conditions e.g. epilepsy or diabetes. Community paediatricians take a much wider overview of a range of health conditions and developmental difficulties affecting a child or young person.