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Advanced Orthoptist-Lead for Autism and Special Educational Needs

Torbay and South Devon NHS Foundation Trust
£43,742 to £50,056 per annum pro rata
Closing date
29 Nov 2023

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Mental health, Learning disability nurse
Band 7
Contract Type
Part Time
This is a great opportunity to join our busy team. The Orthoptic Department is based at Torbay District General Hospital and also holds clinics in community settings and Special Educational schools . We currently have 6.85 WTE Orthoptists and 13 Consultant Ophthalmologists.

This role will combine the Adults with Learning disabilities and Autism with the Paediatric service plus a mix of Orthoptic cases including emergencies

The candidate must therefore have a current Orthoptic Qualification, recognised by the HCPC. You must be registered with the HCPC.

This post requires experience in advanced Orthoptic assessments with a an ability to adapt testing to specific individual patients needs . It will involve working as a single handed clinician at times ,as well as within a multi-disciplinary team . You should be flexible and have good communication and people skills as you will come into contact with professionals from multi-disciplinary backgrounds

The department conducts joint clinics with the Ophthalmologists specialising in ocular motility problems, paediatric Ophthalmology and endocrinologist for those patients with Thyroid eye disease.

The Orthoptic Department is very forward thinking with extended roles into clinical decision making in patients with Wet Macular degeneration and, retinal disease, Glaucoma, Corneal Disease and Paediatric Ophthalmology.

The orthoptic department provides Clinical placement for Orthoptic and Optometry Students.

Main duties of the job

  • Leading the Specialist Services for Adults with Learning Disabilities (ALD), co ordinating a local eye care pathway for adults with learning disabilities (ALD) Signposting and acting as liaison for those people with ALD and Autism that are unable to access eye care with a High Street Optometrist,
  • Providing Orthoptic Services at Places of residence or day care if unable to access High Street care. Liaising with multidisciplinary team both inside and outside of acute hospital and those people requiring de-sensitisation before a hospital visit.
  • Leading the Paediatric Special Educational Needs and Autism service, providing advanced assessment at John Parkes Unit, Special schools and within the community and acute hospital sites.
  • In depth understanding Of Cerebral Visual Impairment (CVI) providing assessment and comprehensive reports to aid understanding of this condition to parents /guardians and carers.
  • Making clinical decisions as to when to request registration as Sight Impaired
  • Provide Autonomous Orthoptic assessments, making individual diagnosis and treatment plans through to discharge for any patient referred to the Orthoptic service. Facilitating onward referral where necessary

About us

  • To provide Advanced Orthoptic Assessments as an Autonomous Practitioner for patients referred to the Orthoptic department including a highly specialist clinical workload as Lead Orthoptist for Autism and Special Educational Needs (SEN) for both Adults (Adults with Learning Disability ALD service) and Paediatric services, working as an effective member of the multi-disciplinary team.
  • To ensure patients with Autism and Special Educational Needs have equal access to Orthoptic care.
  • Will work single handed, including Special schools, Patients own homes, care homes or places of residence /day care for ALD Patients.
  • There is a requirement to work at any location across the Trust, this may be acute Hospital or at community sites as required to provide an Orthoptic service, this may be at short notice.
  • The post holder will be managed by the Head Orthoptist. Orthoptic Clinical supervision will be provided by the Head Orthoptist
  • To be actively involved in the collection of patient clinical data and statistics for the use of the department (e.g., Adults with Learning Difficulties (ALD))
  • The post holder will be expected to supervise other members of staff and students as allocated.

Why work with us - 1 (

Job description

Job responsibilities

Communication and working relationships.

To work in close contact with the Head Orthoptist, Consultant Ophthalmologist and other medical staff, Optometrists, Nursing team, Eye Care Liaison Officer (ECLO), Sensory Team, ROVI (Rehabilitation Officer for Visually Impaired) ROVIC (Rehabilitation Officer for visually Impaired Children)

Present highly complex and highly sensitive condition related information to patients and their families with regards to management and treatment of their eye condition, which frequently requires highly developed empathic, motivational and reassurance skills. This will include imparting unwelcome /often upsetting life changing news to patients and relatives including breaking bad news such as the poor visual prognosis of a child or the need to stopdriving. Plus, registration as Sight Impaired.

Occasionally deal with difficult family situations, which may include sensitive safe-guarding cases where relatives must be confronted about concerns.

To promote awareness of the role of the orthoptist in the wider work setting eg: school careers fairs.

To liaise with the consultant specialist adviser for autism and learning disabilities as required, acting as a named source of contact

The Lead Orthoptist for SEN and Autism will have clinical responsibility for own highly specialised caseload of Orthoptic patients, including Adults with Learning Disabilities and children with a Special educational need and /or disability.

Working as an autonomous practitioner in a single-handed capacity without direct supervision

To have the ability to adapt testing to specific individual needs for patients with broad spectrum Autism or SEN.

Works within codes of practice of relevant governing bodies, HCPC, British and Irish Orthoptic Society, Torbay and South Devon NHS Foundation Trust.

To take the lead in the timing of and decision for management options where there are arange of options e.g., botulinum treatment or surgery for strabismus and other ocular motility conditions.

To identify surgical risks (pre and post) surgery and to discuss these with consultants/ patients /parents /carers.

To assist the surgeon in post-operative adjustable surgery techniques, whilst patient is under local anaesthetic.

To assess eye movement disorders in patients in multi-disciplinary clinics e.g., Joint thyroid clinic and other specialised areas such as emergency referral clinics, and Max-fax patients.

As an autonomous practitioner the post holder will be responsible for the decision to instil drops for diagnostic and refraction purposes, and to advice on any side effects according to the PGD for those drugs.

To liaise with relevant manager for profession regarding any problems arising from core role or extended role

To exercise judgment in the case of adverse events and implications of options for treatment/ non-treatment to ensure best patient management on an individual basis.

Responsibility for planning, coordinating, delivering, and monitoring the ALD and Paediatric SEND and Autism service for the Orthoptic Department within the Trust, Special Schools and home visits, making appointments as required and providing comprehensive reports.

Co ordinating long term local eye care pathway for adults with learning disabilities (ALD, co-ordinating our local service to improve access to eye care for ALD.

To participate in regional study days for Orthoptists when required, and to share in the responsibility for the organisation of such events from time to time.

To be involve/organise Best Interest Meetings for Patients who do not have the capacity to make decisions for themselves.

The Co Ordinator is responsible for creating and maintaining a database of people seen for orthoptic home visits and for general enquiries.

Developing specialised programmes of care. Making reasonable adjustments catered to each individual and put measures in place for continuity of care e.g., Increasing time for assessment of Adults with Learning disabilities.

To triage new Orthoptic Referrals,

Additional tailored strategies for Cerebral Visual Impairment (CVI), advice around wearing glasses, treatment of blepharitis etc are also routinely provided where appropriate.

To act with professionalism and integrity, being a role model to those around us and ensuring everyone has an equal opportunity.

To be professional, legally responsible, and accountable for all aspects of your own work, to work within your professional Code of Contact ensuring professional standards are met. To take responsibility for own Continued Professional Development and identify own development needs during annual appraisal.

Policy and service responsibility

Make recommendations, from National, Regional and Local evidence, contributing to the formulation, implementation and monitoring of policy for Autism and SEN. This policy development will provide the appropriate professional expertise and opinion to wider multi professional groups.

Maintain links with Local LD commissioners and LD Leads at the local County Councils and Devon Local Optical Council.

To liaise with the Consultant Specialist in Autism and SEN in ensuring the department is providing continued highly specialised care for this group of patients.

To write and contribute to Education, Health, and Care Plans (EHCP) attending reviews and providing information as required. (There is a legal requirement for these to be completed within 6 weeks of request being received)

To organise 6 monthly reviews of ALD service with involved services e.g., Ophthalmic nurses providing desensitisation, meetings co -ordinate the MDT meeting developed to support the service. Members of the team are from the acute and community settings, health, and social care. Each year provide a short presentation to illustrate the breakdown of the home visits including numbers seen, age range, referral patterns and outcomes.

To be familiar with and adhere to the policies and procedures of the Trust.

To undertake the Trust clinical and mandatory training

To achieve and demonstrate agreed standards of personal and professional development within agreed timescales.

To participate fully in the performance and development review (appraisal) process and undertake Continuing Professional Development

To assume delegated tasks as requested by line manager, including participation in working groups, policy development groups.

To supervise and provide advice to colleagues working within this extended roe speciality

Responsibility for supervision, leadership, and management

To act as the Lead Extended role practitioner, having expertise and ability to provide training to Orthoptists Optometrists, nurses and other allied health professionals expanding into this advanced role for SEND and Autism assessment and treatment, when required.

Participate in orthoptic training to any allied health professionals involved in patient care where required such as orthoptic, optometry students plus other medical and non-medical groups. This may involve group teaching sessions or single teaching sessions during patient assessments.

To enable the clinics to run effectively when staff absence arises due to annual leave, sickness, mandatory training etc. communicating with the head orthoptist and clinic co-ordinators as necessary, working any where within the trust as requested.

To be involved with recruitment and retention of orthoptic staff

To act in ways that support equality and diversity and the rights of individuals, ensuring own practice is in accordance with Trust policies. Identify and act when own or others action undermines equality and diversity.

To be professional acting with integrity, legally responsible and accountable for all aspects of your own work

Information technology and administrative duties

To keep and maintain appropriate records of all clinical visits or contact with patients where advice has been given. In the medium being used e.g., EPR /paper.

To deal with enquiries as and when they arise during the working day and take appropriate action.

Responsibility for research and development

To be involved in collaborative research, in particular research studies into patients with Autism and SEN

To be actively involved in the collection of patient clinical data and statistics for the use of the department (e.g., Amblyopia patient audit)

Person Specification



  • Registration with HCPC
  • Recognised Orthoptic Qualification
  • Experience as Advanced practitioner


  • Experience with patients who have SEN
  • leadership qualification

Employer details

Employer name

Torbay and South Devon NHS Foundation Trust


Torbay Hospital

Lowes Bridge



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