Coming to terms sight loss, particularly if a diagnosis confirms the impairment is permanent and/or potentially progressive, can be extremely challenging. It is common to feel varying emotions including anger, helplessness, fear and anxiety.
It is reassuring that at the Eye Clinic at Southend Hospital an Eye Clinic Liaison Officer (ECLO) is available to provide practical and emotional support.
I am Tracey Meddle, an Eye Clinic Liaison Officer (ECLO).
I am employed by Southend-in-Sight, a local sight loss charity and based at the Eye Clinic, Southend Hospital Monday to Friday.
I am a link between the Medical team and Social Services. I am available to provide practical and emotional support and to advise patients, their families and friends.
This may involve reassuring a patient or helping them to understand a diagnosis, or explaining the purpose and processes of being registered as vision impaired.
Receiving a diagnosis can be an extremely upsetting experience which can have a huge impact on a person’s life. It is important to have someone to confide in – someone to listen in a calm and private environment, enabling patients to talk freely about any concerns or worries that they may have.
I am also able to support patients during appointments or when they are receiving treatment. I can liaise with the medical team and find out further information if required.
I can refer and signpost patients to local and National support groups and charities as well as services within and outside of the Hospital.
I am non-judgemental, understanding and passionate about providing tailored support and advice to patients. The aim being for patients to maintain their independence and to lead happy, active and enriching lives.
Patients, families and friends can ask to be referred to see me at the reception desk in the Eye Clinic or by calling me on 01702 435555 ext 7025.
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.
Not all Eye Clinics in Essex or, indeed, across the country, have an ECLO. According to the RNIB, in April 2019 only 43% of the top NHS Trusts providing opthalmology services – which account for 99% of opthalmology attendances in England – had no accredited ECLO service in place.