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UK’s leading sight loss charity appoints 100th ECLO to provide vital support for blind and partially sighted people

The Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB) is celebrating a significant milestone in the provision of practical and emotional support for people newly diagnosed with sight loss with the appointment of its 100th Eye Clinic Liaison Officer (ECLO).

The ECLO, Renu Walia, is based in Chase Farm Hospital in Enfield, North London and also provides support to patients in Barnet Hospital and Edgware Community Hospital.

Renu, who is severely sight impaired, will work alongside health professionals to offer support and advice to blind and partially sighted people in the hospital. Areas of support include independent living, returning to work, benefit entitlements, use of technology, emotional support, and coping at home.

RNIB Director of Services David Clarke said: “Receiving a sight loss diagnosis can feel like your whole world has been turned upside down. ECLOs are an essential part of RNIB’s services, providing tailored support at a time when people need it the most.

“Despite the challenges of the pandemic, our ECLOs worked extremely hard to ensure that people continued to receive the help they needed, supporting almost 57,000 patients during 2020 – 2021.

“RNIB is delighted to have appointed its 100th ECLO and I would like to thank the Royal Free London NHS Foundation Trust for working with us to make this possible. This is a significant milestone for RNIB and another step in making sure no-one receives a diagnosis without support.”

Dr Alan McGlennan, medical director and acting chief executive of Chase Farm Hospital, said: “We are delighted to welcome Renu to Chase Farm Hospital to support our patients. This is an extremely important service providing a much-needed holistic approach.” 

Renu said: “I am passionate about providing both emotional and practical support to people who are living with sight loss, so that they are aware of the support and services available to them. 

“Losing your sight can be very overwhelming. My role is to be an independent support, in addition to the clinical staff, who can focus on a person's individual needs and enable them to access the support they need to come to terms with their sight loss and live independent lives.”

RNIB has been delivering an ECLO service for almost 30 years across the UK with the first ECLO employed in 1994. Approximately 50 percent of RNIB ECLOs have sight loss.

There are plans to further strengthen the support available with the recruitment of approximately 30 more RNIB ECLOs within the next five years.

RNIB’s ECLO service will align with the wider NHS Transformation that is currently underway, and the charity is looking to shape the service around this. Part of this work will include more remote appointments and an increased use of digital technology.