The benefits of ECLOs
Having an Eye Care Liaison Officer (ECLO also known as Eye Clinic Liaison Officer) 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?
ECLOs 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.
ECLOs are endorsed by the UK Ophthalmology Alliance (UKOA), the Royal College of Ophthalmologists (RCOphth), NICE and the Department of Health and Social Care. A qualified ECLO will attend the Eye Clinic Support Studies Course (delivered by RNIB and City University, London), which is a recognised qualification by the UKOA, and adhere to the RNIB Quality Framework for ECLO Services.
Why are ECLOs needed?
When attending an eye clinic, people may not be able to take in or fully understand the information about their sight condition during their appointment and may not know what questions to ask. This is exacerbated by increasing demand and capacity challenges in hospitals where staff have little time to sit with an individual at the point of diagnosis to explain things more fully.
Eye clinic staff are often unable to provide the information, emotional and practical support their patients' need. At what can be an emotionally traumatic time, the ECLO service can help provide this essential support in clinic when it’s needed most.
- RNIB estimate that every day, 250 people start to lose their sight (Deloitte Access Economics, 2017).
- People with sight loss are more likely to suffer depression with more than four in 10 people attending low vision clinics suffering from symptoms of clinical depression (DEPVIT, 2016).
- A survey of registered individuals revealed that after diagnosis 83 per cent of blind and partially sighted people were not offered formal counselling by the eye clinic, either at the time or later (My Voice, 2015).
- 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 (Douglas, Corcoran and Pavey, 2006).
- In 2017/18, there were 8.5 million eye clinic appointments in the UK. 2.1 million of these attendances were patients attending their first appointment (Hospital Episode Statistics).
- Current ECLO provision across the UK is not complete leaving some patients unable to access this vital service, particularly across England. The majority (99 percent) of ophthalmology attendances in England are across the top 150 NHS trusts providing ophthalmology services (NHS Digital, 2019). And of these trusts, in April 2019, 43 percent had no accredited ECLO service in place (RNIB, 2019).
ECLO: benefits and supporting evidence
If you don’t have an ECLO in your eye clinic, you can find out more about the benefits the service brings in some key research reports below.
- ECLO Patient Experience Questionnaire UK report 2018/19 (findings from patient experience research demonstrate the impact the ECLO service has to individuals).
- Impact of eye clinic liaison officers: a qualitative study in UK ophthalmology clinics (a report into the experiences of eye clinic staff demonstrate the vital role ECLOs play in improving efficiency and the patient experience in eye clinics).