Vital service for those losing their sight is restored in Norfolk

Eye clinic liaison service restored

Michele Burgess, Vision Norfolk eye clinic liaison officer, in the mobile unit at Queen Elizabeth Hospital, King’s Lynn - Credit: Newman Associates

A partnership between two Norfolk charities has enabled the reintroduction of a vital support service for people receiving a sight loss diagnosis, after coronavirus meant it could no longer be delivered in hospital eye clinics.

Norfolk sight loss charity Vision Norfolk has teamed up with hearing loss charity Hear for Norfolk to provide a mobile service outside hospital ophthalmology clinics.

Vision Norfolk’s eye clinic liaison officers provide an immediate point of support for patients, ensuring they understand the information they have been given, providing emotional support, information and referrals to support groups.

But with the Covid-19 pandemic meaning that only NHS staff are allowed to work within hospital settings, the charity was no longer able to provide the service.

The solution has been a joint initiative between the two sensory support organisations, which has seen Vision Norfolk’s liaison officers working from Hear for Norfolk’s bespoke mobile unit, parked immediately outside eye clinics.

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The service, which has been launched at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in King's Lynn, will be rolled out across all of the county’s eye clinics.

“Our eye clinic liaison officers provide a hugely valuable service for people at the point they receive a diagnosis of sight loss,” said Vision Norfolk chief executive Gina Dormer.

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“The impact of starting to lose your sight can be massive.  It’s not just the practical considerations of how you are going to live your life, but those who receive the news that they are experiencing sight loss also have to deal with their loss of identity.

“Those who have used the service tell us that just knowing there is someone who has a level of understanding is very reassuring.  The consultant deals with the medical side, while the eye clinic liaison officer deals with the wellbeing side.  Both are vital if people living with sight loss are to live independent and fulfilled lives.

“Unfortunately Covid meant that we were unable to provide this service for a while – the partnership with Hear for Norfolk means we have been able to restart this vital support.”

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