Improving resilience in domiciliary care models

Visioncall’s managing director, Michelle Le Prevost, tells OT  how the organisation has pivoted its approach to delivering domiciliary care

Michelle Le Prevost

What new changes has Visioncall made to its structure and processes and what led to these changes?

Visioncall has always been guided by the conviction of our core values. Our belief in a caring society might seem natural in our line of work, but we also believe in the power of innovation and embracing change. In these difficult times, it is critical that our business survives today to provide essential services to our patients in the future.

To achieve this, we pivoted our business model to adopt a ‘hub and spoke’ structure. This new formation allows us to provide patient-centric services through teams of trained clinicians working in the local community. The practitioners are unencumbered by day-to-day administrative processes, which have been centralised to our manufacturing and support centre in Glasgow.

Domiciliary eyecare has always been affected by demand fluctuations from care homes as they have to make local decisions about protecting residents from health risks such as seasonal flu and now COVID-19. The hub and spoke structure allows us to match our services to local demand in a flexible way, getting to the patients who need us the most.

What impact did COVID-19 have on Visioncall and the way the group could provide patient care?

COVID-19 has had an unprecedented effect on both our business and our patients. As a regulated industry governed by NHS protocols, in the early stages of lockdown our optometrists were only able to triage emergency calls over the phone, as we could not have face-to-face contact with our patients.

As the rules have started to relax, our clinicians have been able to don full personal protective equipment and return to care home visits to respond to requests for emergency and urgent care. But care homes are rightfully cautious about access; stringent infection control and prevention measures are being employed to protect both patients and staff, and local lockdowns continue to impact on planned clinic locations.

Earlier this year, Visioncall discussed the phased introduction of its new digital practice management platform, IRIS. How has this been continuing?

One of the most significant developments we have made in the last few months has been the launch of IRIS. The encrypted clinical platform means we now have paperless operation across the business, supporting remote working and efficient clinic management. Alongside our in-house manufacturing, we can now improve delivery times to patients, helping them see better and live better.

Visioncall will continue to introduce innovation that allows us to better serve our patient groups. Further development of IRIS remains a critical part of our future plans.

But care homes are rightfully cautious about access; stringent infection control and prevention measures are being employed to protect both patients and staff, and local lockdowns continue to impact on planned clinic locations


How do the changes that Visioncall has made help to build a resilient model for delivering care in the future?

Our remote teams are a combination of a lead optometrist and lead dispensers, managing teams of experienced clinical associates. This means we can flex our resources up or down to meet demand in the community, improving resilience in the business model and ensuring we are here in the future to deliver excellence in patient care where it is needed.

Are there any learnings that you would take away from the experience of the past few months?

During lockdown our core team of managers and clinicians worked in project teams to determine how we could adapt our ways of working to reduce travel time and keep our teams local to their community. This peer group interaction is something we have retained in our internal communication strategy since returning to work. Everyone has a contribution to make and everyone has a voice.

Externally, communication with our care home partners has been key and we have been in regular contact, interpreting latest regulations in respect of services and ensuring emergency care and repairs are able to be accessed.

COVID-19 has given people and businesses around the world cause to re-evaluate what is important. For us, it has highlighted how important vision is to support a better quality of life for our patients.

How have Visioncall’s plans for 2020 had to change as a result of COVID-19, and what do you have planned for the short to medium term?

Before COVID-19, Visioncall was seeking to enhance its core services to expand eye care opportunities to additional patient groups. Our plans have not really changed.

Maintaining and building on our care home partnerships as we continue to operate under COVID prevention conditions is essential, but we will also be adding new specialisms and services, which we hope to announce over the coming months.

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