Balancing old and new

The profession continues to strike a careful balance between traditional approaches from before COVID-19 and the potential of a ‘new normal’

Week 37 resized

A new cross-Parliamentary report published this week has explored the changes that the public would like to see continued, or enacted, in ‘life after COVID.’

Six months since the World Health Organization officially declared coronavirus (COVID-19) a pandemic, the concept of the world beyond COVID-19 can be somewhat difficult to picture. Particularly while we still feel that we are in the midst of the challenges; at a time when the country faces shortages of COVID-19 tests and varying restrictions on social gatherings. But it is interesting – and important – to consider, nonetheless.

The report, put together by an All Party Parliamentary Group tasked with exploring a green framework for the future of the country, indicated that the public have hopes for a “fairer, kinder, greener, more connected Britain,” beyond the pandemic. 

Recognising the devastating impacts that the pandemic has had for families, businesses and to the economy, the group also noted: “The last six months have forced us all to imagine things differently… some of the changes that have been made are positive ones that a majority would like to keep.”

This balance between ‘returning to normal’ and imagining the potential for a ‘new normal’ is a topic that has appeared in many of the conversations OT has been having over the past few months. The discussion is unlikely to go away as we continue to navigate the difficult way ahead, all while keeping in mind the potential for a ‘second wave’ of the virus. 

But as the profession continues to strike this balance, it will be interesting to see which of the changes that have been made over the past few months are here to stay, and which will fall away in preference for time-tested approaches. 

This is a topic OT has touched on in the current issue, considering the potential benefits that remote consultation technology can bring to optometry, particularly in helping to address the increasing hospital waiting lists.

Recently, we have heard from optometrist, Faye McDearmid, on how she has found the balance between old and new methods of communicating with patients, and the unique benefits that each can provide: whether offering tips through social media on preventing foggy glasses when wearing face masks, or uncovering hidden issues by personally reaching out to patients. 

She told OT that, though the lockdown had been demanding and “tough,” she felt: “The pandemic has given our practice an invaluable opportunity to better connect with our patients.”

And this week, OT and Optocoach have joined forces to launch an Instagram giveaway, to recognise, and celebrate, optical professionals. 

Commenting on the reasons behind the giveaway, Atique Rana, optometrist and founder of Optocoach, highlighted the challenges optical practices and students have faced, and quickly adapted to, adding: “The uncertainty and unfamiliarity has reshaped existing ways of working without any compromise in patient care.” 

So as we continue to cautiously assess how the next few months could look in practice, do take some time to head to our Instagram page (@optometry_today) and nominate a practitioner, student, or optical team member, who has gone above and beyond in their work or study. 

What changes have you made, whether in practice or personally, that you hope to continue going forwards? Which do you expect will fall away? Do get in touch if you would like to share your thoughts.