Helping hands

Optometrists share their efforts to provide support to their communities

helping hands

Through the uncertainty and challenges of the past few months, as the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19) in the UK really took its toll, it has been difficult at times to step away from the headlines.

Practices are facing unprecedented challenges. But even through the difficulties, there have been uplifting moments, as we hear the stories of those who have been lending a helping hand during the outbreak.

Over the past few weeks, through interviews with optometrists for our ‘on the ground’ series, we have heard first-hand how the profession has stepped up to the challenge.

Kicking off the series earlier this month, Suffolk-based optometrist, Will Norman, described serving an intensive care nurse in need of a pair of glasses.

Yesterday I spoke to an optometrist who, like many, closed his practice for all but urgent or essential appointments, but has also been producing face shields for frontline NHS staff and key workers, delivering the 3D-printed masks to hospitals, hospices, local councils, care homes and a local homeless charity.

Despite the impact the outbreak has had on his business and the uncertainty about the future, the optometrist, Drew Thompson, said: “I personally think this can be an opportunity for our profession to stand up and say, ‘We're here, we can help.’”

Mr Thompson described the importance of upkeeping communication with patients, telling OT that he had reached out to offer help to several elderly and vulnerable patients, regardless of whether it is optics-related or not, adding: “They know at least somebody is there that they can ring.”

From the conversations we have had with optometrists over the past few weeks, it is clear that this desire to help is one that many of our readers hold. Whether that be by offering emergency care or triaging NHS patients, making personal protective equipment or completing training for the future while furloughed. Or simply by staying home to keep loved ones, and each other, safe.

Everyone is playing their part and as COVID-19 continues to change the way optometrists practise, we are here to share your experiences. If you are interested in sharing your story, please get in touch.