Bristol West MP, Stephen Williams met with Bristol Eye Hospital ECLO, Laura Kirby, on Friday 16 May to find out more about her role providing practical advice and emotional support to people who are have been recently diagnosed with sight loss.
Laura explained: “The impact of sight loss is different for every patient. Some feel a loss of identity, others fear they will lose their independence. Part of my role is to discuss with patients what their fears are and to try to find ways those can be overcome.”
Laura added: “Often patients just want someone to talk to. I have the time that unfortunately clinical staff don’t have during appointments, and can talk them through all sorts of difficulties. Patients can call me at any time, even if it is months after the diagnosis.”
As well as a tour of the Eye Hospital, Mr Williams attended a focus group where he met consultants, nurses, patients and support workers, who explained the impact of having an ECLO.
Mr Williams said: “Losing your sight affects every aspect of your life, so the role of the ECLO is very much appreciated by the patients, to be that first port of call for the information and guidance people will need.”
Over two thirds of eye clinics in the South West do not offer any dedicated support to people who are losing their sight. This needs to change.