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The Community Eye Service cares for children from 0 - 16 years of age with strabismus, lazy eye (amblyopia) and vision defects. If a child/young person has special needs they can be seen until the age of 19 if they remain in education. The team comprises of orthoptists, orthoptic support workers, community ophthalmologists and specialist paediatric optometrists.
The Orthoptic support workers screen the vision of all children attending mainstream lower/primary schools between the age of 4-5 years.
To develop good eyesight, it is important that eye problems are identified and treated at an early age, as defects which may cause squints or strabismus- (where one eye turns in/out), often run in families or are associated with other special needs. The term lazy eye is often used to describe one eye that is not developing good vision, this is also known as Amblyopia.
Following referral, we will offer your child an initial assessment and, together, we will plan your child’s on going eye care. The treatment plan will then be reviewed regularly to improve your child’s eyes as much as possible. After your first visit to see the orthoptist your child will probably have a further appointment to see the ophthalmologist or optometrist. For this next check eye drops may be needed to enlarge the pupils. The ophthalmologist will examine the eyes to ensure they are healthy and prescribe glasses, if required. Each eye is checked to see if it is healthy and to see if your child needs glasses to correct long/short sight or astigmatism, the children’s glasses prescription voucher (HESP) will be issued.
The orthoptist will monitor the child’s eye problem, offering advice and non-surgical treatment, in order to maximise your child’s visual development. Where a child has a condition where the vision cannot be improved the team will work with other professionals to ensure the child visual capabilities are understood. The Community Eye service orthoptists work closely with the ophthalmologists and optometrists in the Community eye Service and at the Moorfields at Bedford Paediatric Eye Clinic.
The 0-19 service works in partnership to enable children in Bedfordshire to fulfil their health potential. The service is based on delivering the Department of Health, Healthy Child Programme 0-5 & 5-19, underpinned by evidence, in a variety of settings, with a skill mixed team and a focus on families with children 0-19 years of age.
Specialist Community Public Health Nurses (Health Visitors) are specially trained in family and community health for children aged 0-5 and are key to meeting the needs of families. They are trained to deliver care within the community and family environment and on an individual level. They are skilled at spotting early issues, which may develop into risks or problems if not addressed and working with families to build on strengths and improve parenting confidence. Health Visitors will do this through leading and delivering the Healthy Child Programme (HCP) – Pregnancy and the first 5 years of life (DH, 2009) in collaboration with other health and social care partners. They are also critically, the gateway to other services which families may need for more specialist help and the delivery of the Family Nurse Partnership Programme or similar intensive support programmes for the most vulnerable.
Every family is offered a programme of screening test, immunisations, developmental reviews and information and guidance to support parenting and healthy choices so that children and families can achieve their optimum health and wellbeing.
The universal Programme for 0-5 Includes antenatal contact between 28-34 weeks pregnancy, New Birth visit 10-14 days, Maternal mood assessment 6-8 weeks postnatally, 9-12 month child assessment review and 2 year assessment review.
Interventions over and above these will be for targeted families experiencing short or long
The key objectives of the health visiting service are to:
• Improve the health and wellbeing of children and reduce inequalities in outcomes as part of an integrated approach to supporting children and families;
• Ensure a strong focus on prevention, health promotion, early identification of needs and clear packages of support;
• Ensure delivery of the HCP to all children and families, starting in the antenatal period;
• Promote secure attachment, positive maternal mental health and parenting skills using evidence based assessments and effective interventions - evidence based groups to promote parenting
• Identify and support those who need additional support and targeted interventions, for example, parents who need support with their emotional or mental health and women suffering from postnatal depression;
• Work with families on positive parenting through motivational interviewing and evidence based approaches, and to support behaviour change leading to positive lifestyle choices;
• Develop ongoing relationships and support as part of a multi-agency team where the family has complex needs e.g. a child with special educational needs or disability, or where there are identified safeguarding concerns;
• Improve services for children, families and local communities through expanding and strengthening health visiting services to respond to need at individual, community and population level.