Health and social care revision

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Doctors

The GP is your primary contact when you are not feeling well and don’t feel you can self-cure. They care for people who are unwell, including carrying out simple surgical procedures. They also provide preventative care and health education for service users.

The main responsibilities of doctors in treating illnesses are to diagnose, discuss and agree on a treatment plan, prescribe the appropriate medication or treatment and monitor the impact of it.

The preventative care and health education services provide include vaccination programmes for people of all ages, and health education and advice on issues such as smoking, alcohol consumption and healthy eating.

Hospital-based doctors provide specialist medical care. Within this setting a consultant normally leads a team, or firm, of more junior doctors. This includes newly qualified doctors and more experienced doctors (known as registrars). Consultants are normally known by the name of their specialist field, for example: cardiologist (heart disease), psychiatrist (mental health), oncologist (cancer), paediatrician (children) and geriatrician (older people).

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Nurses 1

Nurses are the largest group of professional working in the health services. There are many opportunities to specialise and to reach senior levels within the professions, including the role of nurse practitioner.

Adult nurses- They work with adults of all ages who have a wide range of physical health conditions. They work in hospitals, clinics, GP practices or for specialist organisations such as the armed forces. Many adult nurses work with people in their own homes. They plan individual care, carry out health procedures and treatments, and evaluate their effectiveness. Adult nurses work to promote good health through clinics and health education programmes.

Mental health nurses- They specialise in mental health work, in a wide range of settings including psychiatric units in hospitals, residential homes and prisons. Most people with mental health problems are cared for in the community rather than in hospitals.

Paediatric nurses- They work with children with a very wide range of conditions, and work closely with the child’s parents/carers. Many work in hospitals, but some also work in people’s homes.

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Nurses 2

Learning disability nurses- They work with individuals who have learning disabilities, mainly within the community rather than in hospitals. They work in many different settings, including schools, workplaces, family homes and residential homes. Learning disability nurses aim to work with individuals who have learning disabilities and their carers to maintain the person’s physical and mental health, provide specialist healthcare and support them to live the most fulfilling, independent life possible.

District nurses- They care for people of all ages, most commonly older people, people with disabilities and people who have recently been discharged from hospital. They support people in their own homes or in residential homes. District nurses work closely with individual’s family members and other carers, and assess both the patient’s needs and the care and support needs of their ‘informal’ carers.

Neonatal nurses- They work with newborn babies, including babies who are premature. They work in specialist hospital settings and in the community. Neonatal nurses work very closely with babies’ parents and actively encourage them to take a practical role in their child’s care.

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Nurses 3

Health visitors- They provide support for families in early years (birth to 5 years) on health issues, minor illnesses and advice on feeding. They carry out routine checks on the child’s development and support the parents in being able to meet the child’s milestones. Health visitors see children and their carers at home, in clinics, GPs and sometimes nurseries.

Practice nurses- They work in GP practices, often working alone but sometimes as part of a larger team. Their responsibilities can include taking blood samples, carrying out child immunisation programmes and giving vaccinations to people travelling abroad. Practice nurses often provide health screening for men and women, and family planning advice if they are qualified to do so.

School nurses- They are usually employed by the NHS, but are sometimes employed directly by a school. School nurses offer a variety of services including developmental checks, immunisation programmes and health education programmes.

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Midwives

Midwives support women through all stages of pregnancy, and provide both antenatal and postnatal care. They help families prepare for parenthood, and deliver babies in maternity units of hospitals and at patient’s homes.

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Healthcare assistants

Healthcare assistants, sometimes known as nursing assistants or auxiliary nurses, work under the guidance and support of qualified healthcare professionals. They work in GP practices, hospitals, nursing homes and other community healthcare settings. Usually they work alongside qualified nurses, but they may also work with midwives in maternity services. Their duties include taking and recording pulse and temperature, weighing patients and recording the result, taking patients to the toilet, making beds, washing and dressing patients, serving meals and assisting with feeding if necessary.

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Social workers

Social workers provide help and support for people of all ages through difficult times in their lives. They aim to ensure that the most vulnerable people are safeguarded from harm and to help people live independent lives. Social workers support children, people with disabilities, people with mental health problems and the frail/elderly. Increasingly, social workers specialise either in providing services for adults or in providing services for children and young people.

Adult services include services for older people, people with mental health problems and people who have learning difficulties. They support people living independently and those in residential care, working very closely with the service users’ families and carers.

The children and young people’s services provide support for children and their families. They play a key role in ensuring that children are safe and protected from abuse. If children are at risk from harm, social workers take measures to ensure that the children are removed to a safe place. In extreme circumstances, this may include removing them from their home and family. Social workers also work in residential children’s settings and manage fostering and adoption procedures. They provide support for young people leaving care and young people at risk of being in trouble with the law.

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Occupational therapists

Occupational therapists work with people of all ages who are having difficulty in carrying out the practical routines of daily life, e.g. shopping, housework and washing. These problems may be as a result of a disability, physical or psychological illness, an accident or the frailty of older age. The occupational therapist will agree specific activities with an individual that will help them to overcome their barriers to living an independent life. Occupational therapists may work in people’s homes, GP practices, residential and nursing homes, prisons, social services and other council departments and in hospitals.

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Youth workers

Youth workers work with young people between the ages of 11 and 25. Their aim is to support young people to reach their full potential and to become responsible members of society. They may work in a variety of settings including youth centres, schools and colleges. Youth workers are employed by local councils, or religious and other voluntary organisations. Typical activities they carry out include delivering programmes related to young people’s concerns, organising residential trips, running sports teams, initiating and managing community projects with young people and working with parents to support the healthy development of their children.

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Care assistants

Care assistants provide practical help and support for people who have difficulties with daily activities. This may include supporting older people and their families, children and young people, people with physical or learning disabilities, or people with mental health problems. They work in a wide range of settings including clients’ homes, at day care settings, in residential or nursing homes, and in supported or sheltered housing complexes. Their exact duties will vary according to clients’ needs, but could include helping with personal daily care, general household tasks, paying bills, writing letters and liaising with other health and care professionals. Sometimes they will work with only one person, providing intensive support to enable them to manage everyday life.

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Care managers

Care managers have a key leadership role within residential care settings. They manage the provision of residential care for: adults and young people with learning difficulties, older people in residential care or nursing homes, people in supported housing and people receiving hospice care.

Care managers are responsible for the routine running of the residential care setting, including appointing suitable staff and managing staff and teams, managing the budget and ensuring that the quality of care meets the standards required by the sector. Care managers will manage and supervise the duties of the care assistants working in their setting.

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Support workers

The support worker role is closely linked to the healthcare or nursing assistant role; however support workers may work under the supervision of a range of health and care professionals, including physiotherapists, occupational therapists and social workers. Once the social worker has identified what is needed, the support worker may work closely with the family to help implement the plan. They may provide support with parenting skills, financial management or domestic skills.

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