Extra help available at North Mid for people with sight loss

A specialist eye clinic liaison officer role is being hosted by the Edmonton hospital in conjunction with the Royal National Institute for the Blind

James Treadwell, eye clinic liaison officer at North Mid

A new service at North Mid is helping patients with visual impairments and other eye conditions by offering “bespoke navigation” through the complexities of sight loss.

The eye clinic liaison officer (ECLO) role, which is run in partnership between NHS trusts and the Royal National Institute for the Blind (RNIB), was launched at Edmonton’s North Middlesex University Hospital in March and is one of the latest posts of its kind established by the RNIB, which has been running the scheme in other hospitals for 30 years.

In his first 100 days of working at North Mid, eye clinic liaison officer James Treadwell has helped 135 patients who have been referred to the trust’s eye clinic, for treatment related to low vision, severe sight impairment, and other visual conditions.

His one-to-one support has helped patients get bespoke advice that will allow them to claim hundreds in tax allowances they are eligible for, as well as get access to technology that will read letters and documents to them. Patients are signposted to local groups that offer peer support to manage the emotional challenges of sight loss.

Nabil Uddin, head of orthoptic and optometry services at North Mid, said: “James has been a hugely valuable addition to the team at North Mid who work with patients affected by sight loss and other eye conditions. ECLOs help patients and their families and carers to manage the impact of their eye conditions, ensuring that they understand the range of schemes and benefits they have access to which can mitigate the effect of their health issues.

“The North Mid clinical team are experts in clinical care, but ECLOs really add value for patients in bringing into their care experience the expertise about financial benefits, services available from other agencies like social care and carers support, and the connections with
people who have experienced what they are going through and can empathise and help them navigate the huge impact their condition can have on their life and wellbeing.”

Speaking about how his role at North Mid helps patients, James said: “One patient was registered severely sight impaired almost two years ago but didn’t know about the range of benefits, concessions and services that open to her due to her certification. I was able to refer her to a specialist team who are going to run a full benefits check, to ensure she is claiming everything she is entitled to due to her condition.

“She has also been paying considerably more tax than she needs be on her pension, so an RNIB income tax expert is going to assist her in applying for a blind person’s tax allowance, which will save her hundreds of pounds a year. These additional incomes are going to help greatly as her care needs are increasing.

“The patient also mentioned the emotional challenges her sight loss brings, so we have connected her with local groups who offer peer support to help manage with that. Additionally, her husband is her primary carer and has his own health problems, so we provided her with information about Carers UK, and how they can help from this perspective.

“She will also be getting support regarding technology that can help read out documents and letters to her, and the RNIB technology team will guide her step by step with that. As a couple they were full of warm appreciation for all the assistance and information we gave
them, and it’s so rewarding to know you’ve helped in practical terms as well as improved someone’s everyday life.”

For more information contact James Treadwell:
[email protected]

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