Aintree’s Eye Clinic Staff: ‘seeing’ things in a new way

Aintree’s Eye Clinic Staff: ‘seeing’ things in a new way featured image
As health care professionals who are experts in a particular condition, it’s all too easy for Ophthalmology staff to forget the challenges faced by patients every day.

Aintree Hospital’s Eye Clinic Liaison Officer (ECLO), Hilary Butter, strives to regularly remind staff of these day to day obstacles and works closely with charities to provide colleagues with a unique point of view. “I always try to start with the patient, rather than the condition, I try to find out where they are having difficulty, especially around daily living skills or mobility, and work from there. I think that this has given me a real insight into their world and I want to share that with staff to remind them of why they come to work every day.”

Hilary arranged a staff training session with a “furry twist” when she brought along two special visitors from the local Guide Dog training centre. Staff were put through their paces using a variety of simulated eye conditions and found themselves navigating their way around an obstacle course. A lucky few then got the chance to be guided through the course with the assistance of Coco and Purdey, two guide dogs.

Leanne, a clinical photographer at Aintree said “It was enlightening to put yourself in the shoes of someone who is visually impaired; it was quite an adjustment having to rely on the judgement of the dogs instead of your own senses. Not being able to rely on my vision made me feel very vulnerable and nervous, which must be so difficult to deal with every day and this is your only means of getting out and about.”

The training, the largest of its kind in Merseyside and Cheshire, was attended by dozens of staff from all specialties and was deemed a resounding success. Hilary added, “We do a lot of different visual awareness training, but the objective of this session was to enable staff to gain a better understanding of what life is like for those living with a visual impairment. Many staff commented on how they relied on their other senses much more, such as hearing, smell and their awareness of temperature. We wanted to create a memorable, interactive experience, which is very different to a presentation or lecture. Thanks to the Guide Dog team, this is exactly what we achieved and the staff members who attended will certainly remember their experiences for a very long time.”

In June, staff from the Ophthalmology Department supported the Macular Society’s Macular Awareness Week and engaged with over 1,500 staff across Aintree Hospital, encouraging them to consider a hospital stay from the point of view of patient with a visual impairment. This year, the department is planning to raise awareness of the affect which smoking, nutrition and over-exposure to sunlight can have on your eye health.

The Ophthalmology Department at Aintree University Hospital runs a range of engagement events throughout the year, supported by Hilary and her team. For further information please contact [email protected]
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