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Bridging Clinical and Social Services for Visually Impaired People

image teaser bridging clinical and social services

An investigation by the City University London and the Royal National Institute of Blind People

The aim of this research is to determine if Eye Care Liaison Officers (ECLOs) make an improvement to the quality of life of the patients, reduce the time clinical staff spend with patients discussing rehabilitation and finally if ECLOs are cost effective.

City University London, UK, in association with the Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB) are conducting an investigation into the effectiveness of Eye Care Liaison Officers (ECLOs) or equivalent personnel, who offer services to visually impaired people. ECLOs act as a bridge between clinical and social services, providing information about the patient’s eye condition, signposting to other sources of help and providing emotional support. The aim of this research is to determine if ECLOs make an improvement to the quality of life of the patients, reduce the time clinical staff spend with patients discussing rehabilitation and finally if ECLOs are cost effective.

Part of this study requires us to conduct an extensive literature review, including discussing if there are similar services to those provided by ECLOs in other countries which have a comparable public health care system to the National Health Service in Britain. In particular, we would like to find out answers to the following questions about the provisions for patients with low vision in your country:

  1. What services are provided for patients with low vision and what members of staff provide these services?
    For example, in the UK low vision services are provided by a variety of professionals including Optometrists, Orthoptists, Dispensing Opticians and Rehabilitation Workers.
  2. Is there a standardised or official referral pathway?
    In the UK, referral pathways vary. Some Eye Clinics will refer a patient to social services which arrange a visit from a rehabilitation officer, but the staff member who makes this referral can differ between clinics, and in some cases the patient must contact social services themselves.
  3. Do you have a position that is similar to an ECLO?
  4. Is there a process to register people who are visually impaired, and what are the outcomes of registration?
    In the UK, registration as visually impaired is entirely voluntary. The Ophthalmologist or Optometrist completes a Certificate of Visual Impairment, which is sent to social services who register the patient as sight impaired or severely sight impaired. The clinical information on the Certificate is used by the Rehabilitation Worker to create a rehabilitation plan. It also allows access to certain benefits such as housing benefit.
  5. Are there regional variations in the service provided to people with visual impairment?

We would very much appreciate any information you could give us in relation to these questions. Your participation in this study could make a valuable contribution to the support provided for visually impaired people and we hope that you will enjoy being involved in this important research. If you have any further queries or would like to find out more about the study, feel free to contact us using the details below.

Contact:

Ms Hanna Gillespie-Gallery
Hanna.Gillespie-Gallery.1[at]city.ac.uk

Dr Ahalya Subramanian
Ahalya.Subramanian.1[at]city.ac.uk

Dr Miriam Conway
Miriam.Conway.1[at]city.ac.uk

Implemented by

the City University London, UK, in association with the Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB)

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