Roles of health professionals

An audiologist is a licensed hearing healthcare professional who specialises in the diagnosis and treatment of hearing loss and balance disorders in adults and children.

Child and adolescent psychiatry is a specialty within psychiatry, working with children and young people and their families. Psychiatrists are medical doctors who are experts in mental health. They specialise in diagnosing and treating behavioural and thought disorders. They also work with children and young people with psychosomatic disorders and the emotional and developmental consequences of physical illness and disability.

Child and adolescent psychiatrists are also responsible for the assessment and treatment of children and young people experiencing mental illness such as eating disorders, depression, anxiety and psychosis.

Clinical psychologists offer a range of services for children and young people. They work with children when there are concerns about their development, behaviour, mental health and relationships.

Clinical psychologists can do different things to help such as:

  • Assessments - neuropsychological and diagnostic behaviour that <challenges and? mental health.>
  • Formulation - a psychological way of understanding the child’s needs and how it has become difficult for them or their family. This tells clinical psychologists what help is needed to improve the needs of the child.
  • Interventions - this might be talking therapies, cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT), attachment-based therapies, mental health interventions (such as trauma and anxiety), behaviour interventions, working with parents and working with others around the child’s needs.
  • Often clinical psychologists work directly with the child but sometimes it is better to work with other people to help them to enable the child. This could include nurses, psychiatrists, teachers, social workers and assistant psychologists.

Children’s community nurses provide care in a variety of settings in the community, including in the home and in educational settings.

The children’s community nurse provides support to families and children through training, advice and direct care for children with a range of nursing needs.

Community learning disability nurses work with children, families and staff within settings, for example schools, to help manage behaviour, communication and mental health difficulties using a variety of skills and techniques.

They work jointly with other professionals who are involved with the child to monitor and review the care needed.

The continence nurse works with children and young people who are experiencing difficulties with their bladder or bowel. The aim is to help children and young people to achieve continence where possible, to support them to achieve a good quality of life and to avoid unnecessary admissions to hospital. Where full continence is unlikely to be achieved, they aim to support children and families to manage their condition to enable them to access the opportunities available to them.

They work with all children and young people including those with special educational needs, disability and complex health difficulties. They deliver care mainly in the clinic setting but where appropriate, will support children and young people in a variety of settings, such as home or school.

The role of a designated clinical officer (DCO) is:

  • providing advice to local authorities, schools and colleges regarding the health needs of children and young people who may have SEN or disabilities, including navigating the local health system.
  • providing a contact for health providers so that appropriate notification can be given to the local authority of children under compulsory school age who they think may have SEN or disabilities.
  • supporting schools with their duties under the ‘Supporting Pupils with Medical Conditions’ guidance.
The DCO is not routinely involved in assessments or planning for individuals, except in the course of their usual clinical practice, but would be responsible for ensuring that assessment, planning and health support is carried out by health providers.

Dieticians are qualified health professionals that assess, diagnose and treat diet and nutrition problems.

Family support workers work directly with children and families under the direction of nurses and psychologists to implement agreed plans.

They create and build resource libraries and work with children, young people and families to develop social stories and resource-making skills as well as undertake standardised assessments of children and young people in school and home settings.

Health visitors are trained nurses with a specialist public health qualification. They have extensive knowledge to offer help, advice and practical support to families about the care of children under 5. This may include:

  • support with your newborn baby
  • feeding questions
  • sleep support
  • behaviour
  • home safety.

They can also help with maternal mental health and aim to support the entire family.

They will check the child is growing and developing, as expected. If a child has additional needs, they may be part of a team of professionals working to support the child and family.

You should see a health visitor from the antenatal period and then at set contact points until your child reaches the age of 5 years. If you have any concerns about your child’s development aged 0-5, you should speak to a health visitor. You can request a health visitor if you do not have one.

Occupational therapists aim to help children and young people achieve their full potential in their ability to play, learn and look after themselves. The aim is to improve a child or young person’s level of independence and quality of life and support families and other carers who are involved with these children and young people.

They can work with a variety of children with special educational needs, disabilities and complex health difficulties, and work in the setting that is most appropriate for the child, young person or their family and carers, including home, clinic, education setting and respite.

Occupational therapists may be employed by health, social services or charities and the commissioned service may vary depending on where you live.

A paediatrician is a specialist doctor who looks after babies and children. They are often involved, particularly early on, when there are concerns a child may have an impairment or disability.

A paediatrician is able to refer for further medical investigations and diagnosis. They are able to direct children to other paediatric specialists for example, therapists, psychologists and specialist nursing services, as needed.

Paediatricians can work in a variety of places such as hospitals, community clinics and special schools. 

Children’s physiotherapists provide specialist assessment and intervention to children and young people who have a range of conditions involving physical and movement difficulties which limit their mobility, function and independence.

They work in a range of locations including clinics, school and pre-school settings, homes, and respite or voluntary care settings.

Children’s physiotherapists may be employed by the NHS, local authorities, private or charitable sector providers.

They work with parents and professionals, aiming to help children and young people to reach their physical potential, to achieve improved independence and quality of life.

The school nursing team provides school nursing services to all school age children and their families from school entry to 19 years old. The team is made up of qualified school nurses, community staff nurses, and support workers. Services are provided for all children, young people and their families who live or go to school in Derby city.

Children and young people can be seen in a variety of settings, including schools, health clinics and at home. School nursing take over the healthy child program from health visitors when children start school, to provide a seamless 0-19 service.

You can refer to the School Nursing team for any health concerns including mental, physical or sexual health. They provide ‘drop ins’ at schools, assess the health needs of individuals, schools and communities and can offer health promotion as needed. They also deliver the National Child Measurement Program in all schools and support with healthy weight.

Speech and language therapists work with children and young people with a range of speech, language and communication needs which can include:

  • unclear speech
  • slow or unusual development of spoken language
  • little or no spoken language
  • difficulties with chewing or eating and drinking
  • difficulties in understanding what people say
  • stammered or stuttered speech
  • voice problems.