The paediatric nephrology department at Southampton Children's Hospital has appointed Andy Beeson as its first youth worker for patients with chronic kidney disease.
Beeson will work alongside clinical staff to develop new and innovative ways of supporting young patients aged 11 to 18 as they transition from children's to adult services.
This initiative has been funded by Kidney Care UK and the Wessex Kidney Patients' Association, who have been working in partnership with University Hospital Southampton NHS Foundation Trust to develop the role.
Chronic kidney disease describes the gradual loss of kidney function over a period of months or years. Most patients with the condition are either on dialysis on have had a kidney transplant.
"As well as the medical impact this - or any other long-term health condition - can have on our young patients, there is a wider social impact that also needs to be addressed," said Dr Arvind Nagra, consultant paediatric nephrologist at Southampton Children's Hospital.
"Care doesn't just stop at providing the correct medical treatment. We know through a number of recent research studies the importance of employing a youth worker specifically to support this group of people with the challenges they face.
"Difficulties can include falling behind with education, struggling to find and retain employment and problems with developing and maintaining relationships with potential partners and friends. Studies also show that these patients often have a feeling of isolation, poor self-image, depression and anger."
The new role is part of the trust's wider work to improve support for children as they transition to adult services.
Beeson, who has 12 years' youth work experience, said: "I know the importance of supporting young and vulnerable people with information, advice and guidance both in groups and on a one-to-one basis.
"By developing a good relationship and trust, I can also act as their advocate when they feel they need a little more support with wider issues."