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21st October 2020

Specialist support for people diagnosed with sight loss

The following information has been issued by the Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB).

The Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB) and East Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust, have launched a new service providing emotional and practical support to people newly diagnosed with sight loss.

Michaela Hendrick, Eye Clinic Liaison Officer (ECLO)

Michaela Hendrick, Eye Clinic Liaison Officer (ECLO)

A new Eye Clinic Liaison Officer (ECLO) will work alongside health professionals to offer support and advice to blind and partially sighted people in East Sussex; working between Eastbourne District General and Bexhill Hospitals, as well as Conquest Hospital when needed. Areas of support include independent living, returning to work, benefit entitlements, emotional support, and coping at home.

Michaela Hendrick has been recruited to the ECLO role at East Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust.

Darren Paddick, RNIB ECLO Service Manager South Coast said: “Being told you are going to lose your sight can be an overwhelming experience. An ECLO is there to ensure that people receive much needed advice, information and guidance. East Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust has recognised the benefit of the ECLO service and should be applauded for ensuring their patients receive the highest level of emotional and practical support available.”

Helen Peregrine, Principal Optometrist ESHT said: “A diagnosis of sight loss can be a traumatic experience. The appointment of an Eye Clinic Liaison Officer will make a huge difference to our patients by providing them with essential support, information and advice at an early stage of their hospital care. The ECLO can also help to signpost and promote our local eye charities so patients can receive support at both a local and national level.

“We are delighted that we are now able to offer this service across the Trust thanks to our collaboration with the RNIB.”

Michaela said: “I can offer support to people when they might be feeling at their lowest. I understand that if someone arrives in clinic and they are told their sight is getting worse, it’s life-changing news. This applies to those with long-standing sight loss or newly diagnosed. My role is about reassuring the patient that they’re not alone and helping them get the right support in a timely manner to enable them to remain independent.”

Over 70,000 ophthalmology patients receive treatment from East Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust each year.

ECLOs form part of RNIB’s Sight Loss Advice Service, which provides practical and emotional support over the phone, face-to-face at many hospital eye clinics, or through online information. To find out more information about ECLOs, please visit RNIB’s website: www.rnib.org.uk/eclo