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Thinking on your feet, relying on clinical knowledge and experience – a day in domiciliary

Have you ever considered working in domiciliary eyecare? The UK’s ageing population means that there’s an increased demand for eyecare services delivered at home. Domiciliary partnership offers a fantastic career opportunity that’s clinically, ethically and commercially rewarding, with great opportunities for growth.

srsHolly Irvine has recently joined Specsavers’ partner recruitment team, focusing on domiciliary partner recruitment. Keen to gain a deeper insight into the world of domiciliary, Holly spent a day shadowing two domiciliary joint venture partners servicing the Manchester area: optometrist partner Zetun Arif and customer services partner Charlotte McGimpsey. Holly’s day on the road helped her to experience first-hand not only how varied and clinically engaging domiciliary work can be, but also what a difference the service can make in the lives of often vulnerable housebound people.

Holly writes: ‘My day began in peak-hour traffic to meet Zetun and Charlotte in a local car park. Zetun and I then left our cars and jumped in with Charlotte. From the start there were clear and defined roles between the two: Charlotte was the day’s designated driver while Zetun was in charge of entering addresses into the satnav and giving all the patients a courtesy call an hour before their visit. Zetun and Charlotte have multiple schedulers who plan their day to a tee in order to sensibly maximise how many patients they get to see in a day; they receive the schedule 24 hours in advance. I learned that a good schedule is key to a successful day – if your patients are too far apart or you’ve overbooked, it could have a real impact.

‘Our first patient was Edna [not her real name], who lives in her own home but is unable to get to a store for health reasons. Edna let us know that she was experiencing double vision, which she found scary. Her sight had also deteriorated, to the extent that she could no longer see to do colouring, her favourite hobby. Taking a quick glance around, I noticed Edna’s extensive selection of colouring pencils and felt a little pull on my heartstrings. Zetun tested Edna’s eyes and was able to reassure her that the right glasses could be prescribed to help her.

Zetun advised Charlotte what Edna needed, then stepped away to enter her notes into the system and print off Edna’s paperwork. Meanwhile, Charlotte stepped in to frame-style Edna – they had already built a rapport during the test. She found the perfect two pairs (buy one get one free!) for Edna, who was delighted to hear that her new glasses would be delivered to her home free of charge and also fitted on delivery.

‘As we walked back to the car I noticed the equipment that Charlotte and Zetun carry around with them each day. Their kit consists of two large briefcases (one for men’s frames and the other for women’s), two suitcases (one containing a portable printer and laptop and the other full of optometry equipment), an iPad and an iPhone.

‘What I noticed throughout the visits was how Zetun has to improvise with what she has, for example finding a suitable vantage point for the iPad so the patient can read from it.  However, Zetun says she enjoys the challenge of the stripped-back approach; being out of the test room really makes her think on her feet and rely on her clinical knowledge and experience.

‘After seeing a total of seven patients in both private homes and care homes, including an elderly man with dementia and a husband and wife team (married 42 years after a blind date), our day was done.

‘It was a busy day, full of challenges, interesting pathology and some lovely chats with patients. It really helped me to understand what a difference our optometrists and optical assistants/ dispensers make to their patients. You finish your day feeling you really have made a huge difference to every patient you’ve seen.’

If you’d like to know more about domiciliary partnership, contact Holly by emailing holly.irvine@specsavers.com or calling 07788 303108.

Specsavers is currently offering paid domiciliary shadow days for self-employed optometrists interested in finding out more about the sector. The shadow day will qualify attendees to work as domiciliary locum optometrists for the company. For more information, contact the Specsavers recruitment team by emailing uk.recruitment@specsavers.com or calling 01566 771888.

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