Primary Eyecare Services refreshes referral pathway for Easy Eye Care service

The Single Point of Access referral pathway support patients with learning disabilities to access the Easy Eye Care services

Primary Eyecare Services is relaunching its Single Point of Access referral pathway, in conjunction with SeeAbility, to enhance its Easy Eye Care service for patients with learning disabilities.

The re-shaped pathway has been introduced in recognition of Learning Disability Week, taking place 19–25 June.

Based on a model by the Local Optical Committee Support Unit (LOCSU), Easy Eye Care supports adaptations to the sight test for patients with learning disabilities.

Primary Eyecare Services cited research indicating that adults with a learning disability are 10 times as likely to have significant vision problems, rising to 28 times as likely in children, and emphasised: “We are acutely aware that there is a substantial need for adapted eye care services designed especially for the requirements of these patients.”

OT spoke with the Primary Eyecare Services team to learn more about the pathway.

Lisa Gibson, clinical director for Primary Eyecare Services, explained that the service can offer accommodations such as acclimatisation visits before the appointment, and longer eye exams, “to make sure everything can be completed for that patient without the pressure of time that sits within a normal, standard eye exam.”

Dharmesh Patel, Primary Eyecare Services chief executive officer, explained that the pathway is a commissioned extended eye care service.

“Thus, there is a payment to the practice for participating and delivering that service for an individual patient, through the mechanism of contracting through Primary Eyecare Services to deliver the service,” he said.

Easy read patient information literature is available from SeeAbility to support the Easy Eye Care pathway.

A number of pilots were hosted across the UK, and the pathway will be initially running in the following areas with commissioned services: Cheshire and Merseyside, Greater Manchester, Lancashire, County Durham, and Sutton.

The new referral pathway will help to connect patients with the Easy Eye Care service.

Patel explained: “What we’re launching will be a single point of access for the areas in which this is commissioned, that will allow patients with learning disabilities or their carers to be able to contact us at Primary Eyecare Services, via phone or email, to provide their details and make the request for an appointment for a sight test under the Easy Eye Care pathway for patients with learning disabilities.”

The team at Primary Eyecare Services will then support the patient or carer to identify the right practice and book an appointment.

Practices wishing to participate can contact Primary Eyecare Services and request to deliver the service.

Practitioners will need to complete the LOCSU Eye Care for People with Learning Disabilities course through Cardiff University’s WOPEC.

“From a practice perspective, this is an opportunity for those with an experience or interest in working with patients with learning disabilities to really get involved,” Patel said, “to build those relationships with local carers and homes for patients with learning disabilities, and these patients.”

He suggested that this could also support practitioners to build their practice in a different way, “and add to their armoury.”

In addition to this however, Patel said the service is an opportunity to “do something that is really powerful, when you can see the impact it has on patient’s lives.”

“I think a lot of practices are involved with supporting patients with learning disabilities anyway, and this enables them to get involved in a more substantive way,” he said.

Describing her personal experience of working with SeeAbility and patients with lived experience of learning disabilities as “rewarding,” Gibson said: “It is really important; this will make a difference to people with learning disabilities lives. They need access to proper eye care, enhanced tests, that just give the extra time and support they need to get the most out of it.”

In case you missed it: read insight from Donna O’Brien, policy, public affairs and research manager at SeeAbility, on the topic of ‘Health for All’, the theme of April’s World Health Day.