iSightCornwall wins national award

December 17, 2020 4:15 pm

Cornwall’s sight loss charity receives national recognition

CORNWALL’S oldest charity, iSightCornwall has been nationally recognised for its innovation and development throughout the Covid-19 pandemic.

The charity was chosen for the Share Award at this year’s Visionary Conference after becoming a global leader in new ways to help people remotely.

When the initial national lockdown was announced earlier this year, iSightCornwall’s vital low vision service had more than 60 patients booked in for low vision assessments.

But with face-to-face services forced to be put on hold, the charity decided to look into how they could continue to help people throughout the lockdown

National Pandemic

Shannon Smith, from iSightCornwall’s Low Vision team, explained: “Low Vision services help to make the most of a person’s remaining sight and can have a big impact on other parts of a person’s life. So a national pandemic lockdown was a time of potential high-anxiety for people without the aids they would need to help them read, continue with their hobbies or even watch TV.

“The average age of our low vision clients is around 75, often living on their own in a rural county and with multiple health conditions, they are a high-risk group.

“So, with no idea how long services would be restricted, we developed an innovative way of determining suitability and carrying out of immediate intervention through a remote assessment.”

Named ‘ReVision’ the new assessment toolkit put together by iSightCornwall saw members of the Low Vision team contacting their clients through phone calls and following an innovative assessment. They could then determine which magnification aids would be best suited for each person.

Since March more than 150 patients have received a remote assessment, with more than 350 aids despatched.

Reassuring

The remote service has been reassuring for family members and carers to know that their loved ones can still carry on with their hobbies and leisure activities at home when they face being on their own long periods.

Plus, opticians, the eye hospital and the commissioner have praised the initiative as ‘immensely reassuring’.

A Consultant Optometrist at Royal Cornwall Hospital Treliske described the approach as ‘comprehensive and clear’ and ‘in these times of ‘the new normal’, sounds as though it is the way to be going forward’.

In addition to hosting an online workshop for Visionary members, following securing funding from Thomas Pocklington Trust, iSightCornwall now plan to share their knowledge across the sector. The ReVision toolkit will be available for low vision practitioners so they can continue to help people remotely.

There has been interest across the globe, with the Cornish charity even being discussed on radio in New Zealand for their work.

Nominees

When choosing the nominees for the award, the shortlisting panel noted that other Visionary members had also nominated iSightCornwall for this award, with Sight Concern Bedfordshire saying: “Thanks to this session and their willingness to advise and share resources we have now piloted 3 remote clinics and will be increasing our offer in the New Year – reaching people at this critical time. Thank you iSightCornwall for showing us the way”.

iSightCornwall recently refurbished their visitor centre to make social distancing easier for staff and clients and continue to help people and answer enquiries throughout restrictions.

Chief Executive, Carole Theobald, said: “We are very proud to be chosen for this award. The feedback we got from clients was already very rewarding, with many people going out of their way to tell us how much we have helped them but to be officially recognised by Visionary is fantastic.

“As a charity we had to adapt very quickly to the challenges brought on by the crisis and our staff have responded with innovative solutions and I am incredibly grateful for their dedication, flexibility and resilience during this difficult time.”

iSightCornwall’s Sight Centre is currently open for appointments only but the team are on hand to take calls and enquiries 9.30am to 4pm, Tuesday to Friday by calling 01872 261110.

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