On stage at 100% Optical: domiciliary complaints and myopia management expectations

Professional adviser to the Optical Consumer Complaints Service, Richard Edwards, on two sessions that will equip registrants with the skills to handle complaints

Richard Edwards
In the lead-up to 100% Optical 2023 in February, OT reached out to a selection of speakers from the education programme to find out more about the sessions on offer, the topics that will be explored, and what visitors can expect. Find the full series, along with further content on 100% Optical on OT’s dedicated page.

What is the focus of your session?

I'm giving two CPD sessions at 100% Optical in 2023, both very topical from the perspective of the Optical Consumer Complaint Service (OCCS).

On the Saturday I have a session about handling complaints relating to myopia management. I think this is a really exciting area of practice but it is going to change at pace as we get more data and insight about the effectiveness of different methodologies. The session will focus on the human element of how you have the right conversations with the child and parents when supplying the myopia management strategy, and how to manage their expectations.

Then on Monday I have a presentation reviewing some complaints relating to domiciliary care. We’ve seen a big jump in domiciliary complaints in the last year or so – in our annual report to the General Optical Council, it has almost doubled. Whilst the volume is concerning, what concerns me most is the qualitative nature of these things. As a profession, we have got to be really mindful of the risks of this particular part of practice when you are dealing with, often, elderly, vulnerable people. I’ll go through two domiciliary complaints that I think would be useful, to understand some of the particular issues about dealing with vulnerable members of society.

What binds these two subjects together at the moment is that we are heading to a cost of living crisis. The investment of parents in myopia management, or in expensive spectacles for elderly, vulnerable people, brings an added level of risk and scrutiny to what we do as a profession. The public is going to be very demanding of us in the next few years, as I suspect they will be of all places where they have got to spend money.

What binds these two subjects together at the moment is that we are heading to a cost of living crisis


What are some of the key messages you wish to highlight?

I try to make the sessions fun because I think people learn better when they are relaxed. The sessions will be interactive peer group discussions, and I’ll give scenarios that they will have to debate. I focus on how to deal with what lands in our lap when a complaint comes in.

The common denominator between my sessions is that I’d like to share methodologies and tips to equip practitioners with a confidence that they can deal with these things. It is not easy dealing with people who are complaining, but what I see from the people who do it well is that they have an ability to stay in control, come up with a plan, and communicate well with the patient or family.

I will also talk a little bit about the work we’ve been doing at the OCCS to help the GOC to not have to open unnecessary investigations. I hope that people will go away remembering the data I will share on this and they might sleep better at night, without worrying about things that would never get them into trouble.

Who is this topic for? Who might benefit the most from joining?

I think the myopia management subject is for everybody. I think every registrant needs to be up to speed on this because we will have somebody walking through the practice doors asking: ‘Can you tell me about this thing I’ve read about in the paper…’ The public is going to be rightly interested, engaged and curious, so it is beholden on registrants to make sure they are up to speed, whether they fit the myopia management lenses or not. My plea is to seek out as much CPD as you can.

I think the value of the domiciliary session is broader than domiciliary practitioners, because it deals with the subject of managing people who may be a bit vulnerable – and vulnerable adults aren’t confined to their homes. Dealing with people who have a cognitive impairment or are a bit vulnerable brings an additional layer of challenge and jeopardy because when things go wrong, it can quickly escalate into something trickier than other areas of practice might.

These subjects are absolutely central in my mind at the moment as clinical advisor at the OCCS


Why is this topic so important for optometrists to engage with?

These subjects are absolutely central in my mind at the moment as clinical adviser at the OCCS. Myopia management could transform how we practice. When you look at the research of Holden and his team, that more than half the world’s population will be myopic by 2050: this is an epidemic. There is now a strategy developing where optometry can be at the heart of managing that condition rather than just being reactive to it: we can slow down the rate of progression. Controlling myopia has huge public health and quality of life benefits. It is important because it is so exciting. 

On the other end of the spectrum, domiciliary is topical from the perspective of the OCCS. Not only is the quantity of issues on the rise – and that could be understandable as care homes have opened up a bit post-pandemic – but I am concerned about the qualitative nature of the complaints I’m seeing.

What do you hope the top takeaway will be for attendees?

It is twofold. With myopia management it is about being a sponge and absorbing information. I hope people will leave the session much more confident that they can have the right conversations with parents.

With domiciliary, I would like to get people to recalibrate and rethink how they manage when they have a vulnerable person in the chair, at a care home, or in the patient’s own home, to raise their alertness level and make sure they can absolutely validate the decisions they make when prescribing.