Eye clinic staff

We can help professionals in the Eye Clinic – ophthalmologists, ophthalmic nurses and early intervention staff – understand more about how to offer the best possible support to patients newly diagnosed with sight loss, as well as those who return to the eye clinic for further or ongoing treatment.

Often eye clinic patients can find dealing with the emotional and practical impact of changes to their sight to be overwhelming. Eye clinic staff are often the first point of contact for people coping with sight loss and have an important role in providing practical information, emotional support and in signposting other services.

The Eye Clinic Liaison Officer

Having an Eye Clinic Liaison Officer or ECLO (also known as sight loss adviser) is one of the most effective ways of supporting patients in the eye clinic. ECLOs are key in helping patients understand the impact of their diagnosis and providing them with emotional and practical support for their next steps.

What is an ECLO?

Eye Clinic Liaison Officers (ECLOs), or similar early intervention support staff, work closely with medical and nursing staff in the eye clinic, and the sensory team in social services. They provide those recently diagnosed with an eye condition with the practical and emotional support which they need to understand their diagnosis, deal with their sight loss and maintain their independence.

Most importantly, ECLOs have the time to dedicate to patients following consultation, so that they can discuss the impact the condition may have on their life.

Why are ECLOs needed?

Being diagnosed with an eye condition can be difficult to come to terms with, and everyone reacts differently. It can be an extremely confusing and uncertain time and in many cases emotionally traumatic.

  • People with sight loss are three times more likely to suffer depression.
  • A survey of registered individuals revealed that after diagnosis 92 per cent of blind and partially sighted people were not offered formal counselling by the eye clinic, either at the time or later.
  • Nearly a quarter of blind and partially sighted people (23 per cent) leave the eye clinic not knowing, or unsure of, the name or nature of their eye condition.

Eye clinic staff are often unable to provide the emotional and practical support their patients' need. The ECLO can help provide this essential support.

ECLO – benefits and supporting evidence

If you don’t have an ECLO in your eye clinic, you can find out more about the benefits and the costs in our downloadable information pack, which also contains details of how to get an ECLO. You can also access key research reports, below.

Is there an ECLO near me?

We also work to understand where ECLOs and other early intervention staff operate. You can find out the level of support in your area, by downloading our register.

Already an ECLO or want to become one?

We are committed to helping early intervention staff reach a common standard of knowledge and care. That’s why we run a variety of courses and networks to support the development of the ECLO and other early intervention staff roles, and connect them to like-minded peers across England.

Accredited Eye Clinic Support Studies Course

RNIB runs a four-day Eye Clinic Support Studies Course, accredited by City University London, for staff working within eye clinics across the UK. The course is designed to equip eye clinic and related staff to competently address the emotional and practical needs of patients or clients on their eye care journey. It encourages you to identify key factors in providing effective support and to reflect on how to promote these in the clinical context in which you work.

Dates of courses in 2015:

  • 2-5 March 2015 (Birmingham)
  • 8-11 June 2015 (Birmingham)
  • 12-15 October 2015 (Birmingham)

Find out more about the benefits of attending and what others have said about the course

To book your place, complete the following application form and send it to the details below.

For more information, please email ecloeditor@rnib.org.uk

Eye clinic staff seminars

RNIB hosts a series of one day seminars focusing on specific elements of eye clinic practice. These seminars offer the opportunity for eye clinic staff to meet others working in early intervention support based in eye clinic settings. Seminars will include demonstrations of the latest RNIB products and resources to support blind and partially sighted people, dedicated CPD sessions and opportunities to share best practice, ideas and learning.

To find out more and to apply, download our course information document.

Dates for 2015 seminars are below:

  • 18 March 2015 (Birmingham)
  • 13 July 2015 (London)
  • 11 November 2015 (Leeds)

Short courses

The SEARCH project offers free training, continuing professional development and facilitated networking for volunteers, nurses and information/advice workers (early intervention supporters) in the eye clinic. The aim is to ensure that practical and emotional support in eye clinics is offered to a consistent standard across England.

To find out more about where the SEARCH project is offered, how it can benefit you and how to apply, download our course information below:

Early Intervention Support Network (EISN)

The Early Intervention Support Network (EISN) is an email discussion network, established to support staff working within eye clinic settings, providing front-line services to newly-diagnosed blind and partially sighted people including those diagnosed with a sight-threatening condition.

The aim of the network is to create a community - of those working within eye clinics across the UK - that offers the opportunity for peer support, development and dissemination of best practice, problem solving, sharing ideas, experiences and resources.

To find out more about EISN and subscribe, download our EISN guidance now!

Eye Care Professionals UK group on LinkedIn

RNIB have launched the LinkedIn Eye Care Professionals UK group. LinkedIn is a form of social media, similar to Facebook and Twitter but with a purely professional focus and is an excellent way to connect with professionals in the field of eye health.

The aim of the Eye Care Professionals UK group is to bring together professionals working in or with an interest in eye health to share resources, discuss issues and ideas and seek advice. This includes ophthalmologists, optometrists, ophthalmic nurses, GPs, eye clinic staff, public health specialists and more. Join us now to be part of this exciting community.

Certification and Registration

The importance of Certification and its difference to Registration can be confusing. Download our helpful guidance to understand the differences and learn about the impact it can make to your patients.

Quality standards and guidance

Good practice guidelines for ECLOs and EISWs

The following good practice guidelines for Eye Clinic Liaison Officers (ECLOs) and Early Intervention Support workers (EISWs) have been developed to support ECLOs and EISWs to deliver consistent and good quality support for children, young people and families.

Practice guidance, quality frameworks and assessment tools for eye clinic support services

ECLO and other Sight Loss Advisers

This document defines the core activities and associated standards for ECLO and other Sight Loss Advisers who hold the Eye clinic support studies course certificate.

Summary and assessment tool

This document provides a summary of the essential and desirable criteria for the six quality requirements.  

Eye clinic support service providers

This document defines essential and desirable standards for other eye clinic support service providers, such as a sessional adviser (e.g. an ophthalmic nurse or rehabilitation worker) who provides a patient support role one day per week, or a team of volunteers that staff a help desk.
Summary and assessment tool
This document provides a summary of the essential and desirable criteria for the six quality requirements.  

Information on the Low Vision Services Assessment Framework

The Low Vision Services Assessment Framework is a tool provided by RNIB for assessing the quality of care offered by providers of low vision services. This framework was originally commissioned from Cardiff University and partners as part of The Low Vision Service Model Evaluation (LOVSME) project, and has been adapted and streamlined by colleagues at RNIB and Action for Blind People.

This tool is designed to be used by providers of all types of low vision services to enable them to demonstrate the value and worth of their service and to promote discussion about whether and where there are areas for improvement and how this might be achieved.

Sightline directory

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