The national Standards make clear the importance of patient support and state that all eye clinics should have an ECLO (Eye Clinic Liaison Officer) and adhere to the RNIB ECLO Quality Framework. RNIB's Visibly Better Standards are also cited, with the aim of improving the built environments of eye clinics to make them more accessible for people living with sight loss.
ECLOs work alongside health professionals to offer support and advice to people affected by sight loss in a range of areas. These include independent living, returning to work, benefit entitlements, emotional support, and coping at home. ECLOs can also assist with certification and registration to ensure that newly diagnosed people receive timely support from social care.
Keith Valentine, RNIB Director of Development, said: “RNIB and the UKOA have worked hard to develop these Standards. We believe they will have a significant impact on the patient journey and increase support for those in eye clinics.
“It can be an overwhelming experience being told you are going to lose your sight. That feeling is compounded if people have to deal with it alone. ECLOs provide much needed information, advice and guidance.”
Melanie Hingorani, Consultant Ophthalmologist and Chair of the UKOA, said: “Patients in eye clinics and those with visual impairment have very specific needs. Although there is national guidance for patient care, none was specific for eye care. This new document brings together all the relevant guidance, combined with professional expert views and what patients have told us is important, to give one comprehensive standard for patient care and patient experience in eye clinics. This is a fantastic example of how professionals and patients working together can make a difference.”
The Standards were launched on 20 September. Although the Standards won't be mandatory, it is hoped they will be hugely influential and that the patient organisations and ophthalmology departments involved will help to build on their implementation.
The UK Ophthalmology Alliance brings together eye care professionals, patient groups and national ophthalmic bodies across the UK to improve efficiency and pathways, create quality standards, benchmark performance and provide support in areas where performance can be improved.
All media enquiries to the RNIB Press Office on [email protected] or 020 7391 2223. For urgent enquiries out-of-hours, please call 07968 482812.
Every six minutes, someone in the UK begins to lose their sight. We are the Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB) and we're here for everyone affected by sight loss – that's over 2 million people in the UK. If you, or someone you know, has a sight problem, RNIB can help. Call the RNIB Helpline on 0303 123 9999 or visit www.rnib.org.uk