Sophie, HRH The Countess of Wessex, visited the Royal Eye Unit at Kingston Hospital NHS Foundation Trust to learn more about the support provided by RNIB's Eye Clinic Liaison Officers (ECLOs).
Hooman Sherafat, consultant ophthalmic surgeon and clinical director at the Royal Eye Unit, told The Countess about the important role ECLOs play, and how Sabeena Weyhenage, an ECLO at Kingston since 2017, had become an essential member of the department.
Jane Backlog, major giving manager at RNIB, said: “The Countess was very generous with her time. Not only did she meet staff and patients at the Unit and find out more about the valuable work ECLOs do, she stayed much longer than the schedule had originally allowed. She really seemed to enjoy the visit and particularly enjoyed meeting Sabeena and Neima, her guide dog, and listened intently to Sabeena as she talked about her own sight loss journey.”
One of Sabeena’s patients, Renee, who has macular degeneration, told The Countess how Sabeena had supported her to keep as independent as possible.
David Clarke, RNIB director of services, Dame Gail Ronson DBE, Rev. Martin Hislop, deputy lieutenant for Kingston-upon-Thames, RNIB President, Sian Bates, chairman of Kingston Hospital and Jo Farrar, chief executive of Kingston Hospital welcomed The Countess on her visit.
David Clarke explained: “We are honoured that Her Royal Highness visited the Royal Eye Unit at Kingston Hospital to see the invaluable work done in partnership with RNIB and Kingston Hospital Charity.”
Jo Farrar, chief executive of Kingston Hospital, said: “We are committed to providing the best eye care for our patients. Working with Kingston Hospital Charity and RNIB to provide essential and valuable support through the ECLO service – both practically and emotionally to the clinic, when it’s most needed – is essential for our patients at the Royal Eye Unit.”
ECLOs work alongside health professionals in eye clinics, and the sensory team in social services, to provide information and guidance on a range of areas, including emotional support, independent living, returning to work and benefit entitlements. ECLOs are an important part of RNIB’s Sight Loss Advice Service, which provides practical and emotional support to anyone affected by sight loss, online, over the phone, or in the eye clinic.