Putting people first

How the pandemic has amplified people’s willingness to help others

Health professionals

Yesterday the Government announced an end to all plan B rules imposed following the rise of the Omicron variant. If this pledge is anything to go by it looks like we bypassed the January lockdown whispers leading up to 2022.

However, reports in The Guardian that the government will abolish COVID-19 restrictions over the coming weeks and “get life completely back to normal” sparked warnings from health groups and some of whom think it is too soon. 

As I write this blog entry from my bedroom workstation, which now nearly two years later is a rather impressive set up, it seems hard to imagine returning to an office environment full time, and I’m sure many others still working from home are likely to feel the same.

As optometrists, the ‘work from home’ rule most likely hasn’t impacted your daily working lives. In some other small way you may have been affected, either by the patients you see or even the people in your life.

One area that will be influenced is the recent news about the updates to the self-isolation rules.

This week, OT reported news in response to updates by the UK Health Security Agency for staff in health and social care settings on isolation requirements following a positive COVID-19 test result.

To support optometrists, the AOP has also published guidance clarifying the implications of reduced self-isolation requirements for the profession.

Living with constant changes to our daily lives, I stopped to think if there was one thing that has remained consistent. As clichéd as it sounds, for me it’s people’s willingness to help others.

Whether this is helping a patient, colleague, or a student, we’ve spoken to a range of eye care professionals and industry experts who have gone above and beyond their duties. This is something that you would expect to see in a caring profession, but the pandemic has only amplified people’s willingness to help others despite the added pressures.

In the upcoming February/March edition of OT we will be discussing how the pandemic has put a spotlight on the value of domiciliary optometry and how many working in this area have gone the extra mile to ensure their patients get the care they need.

Alongside domiciliary optometrists on the ground, the Domiciliary Eyecare Committee (DEC) has been working behind the scenes to emphasise the importance of eye care in care homes despite the frequent lockdowns, red tape measures imposed, and rise in Omicron cases. OT spoke to domiciliary optometrists and the DEC about their experiences. 

Pre-reg optometrist, Yuan Gao, shared his struggles to find a pre-reg placement due to the pandemic and acknowledged the impact of the support given to him by his lecturers and professors. Talking about his professor, Rashmi Mathew, he commented: “She taught me the importance of being kind, whether this was working with students, optometrists or patients. I think being kind and considerate is a key component, often overlooked, but essential in a caring profession such as healthcare.”

If you’re looking for an opportunity to help those entering the profession the AOP announced that it has extended its mentoring programme to include locums. So, if you are interested and can offer your time and experience to support a pre-registration, newly-qualified or locum optometrist find out more information on the AOP website. 

Taking care of others may mean that every so often you also might need someone to lean on too. The AOP’s Peer Support Line offers support to optometrists at any stage in their career. This is a confidential helpline where you can discuss anything with an empathetic peer who recognises the pressures of optical practice.