North-East based Lead Dispenser Linda Dent tells us about her role with Visioncall and how the training and support available makes it a hugely rewarding job.
What did you do before joining Visioncall, and how did you join the team?
I’ve been with Visioncall for 20 months, and before that, I worked for 20 years at an optical lab. I’d just put my CV onto a job site, and Visioncall got in touch. They thought I sounded ideal, and asked me to come to an interview. I’d never heard of domiciliary before, I just thought people went into the opticians, got their eyes tested and that was it. The job kind of fell into my lap!
How do you find working in a domiciliary environment versus in-practice care?
The biggest thing for me is that it isn’t the same thing day in and day out. No two days are the same: I’m in a different care home every day, seeing different people every day. I can have a good conversation with them, which is so brilliant, and they really enjoy it. When I started, it was pretty daunting. I was with another team for a few weeks for training, and at first, I thought “I will never get all this, never in a million years.”
It’s like when you learn to drive, you don’t actually learn until you’ve passed your test and you’re in the car on your own, without your instructor. That’s how it felt. But every day, I grew a bit more confident and then one day, it just clicked, and I realised I wasn’t even having to think about it anymore.
What do you find most rewarding about the role?
For me, it’s the moment when the sight test is complete. Sometimes the carers will tell us that the patient won’t need glasses, the person sits on their own and doesn’t interact or take part in activities. But then I put the trial frame on them, and the reaction is priceless. They get a new lease of life when the glasses go on; before that, they were just a shadow of their former selves, because they couldn’t see.
I didn’t see any of that in my old job; I just made the glasses, and I never knew how they benefitted somebody. But their whole physical well-being changes instantly. Unless you’ve been there and witnessed it, it’s something you can’t appreciate. It brings tears to my eyes; it never ceases to amaze me
What kind of training and support is available for Visioncall’s team members?
The training is second to none. We have dementia training, and we have modules to complete regularly, to make sure that our knowledge is up to date. You can always ask for additional training if there’s anything you’re struggling with. I felt I was struggling with symmetry, so my manager sent out trial frames for me to practice on, which really helped. Visioncall has been absolutely brilliant with providing a support network, there are always people you can talk to. The training and support I’ve gotten here has empowered me; I feel like I can speak confidently, and I can share my thoughts and clinical opinions and know that I’m being heard.
What would you say to other dispensers who are considering a career change and joining Visioncall?
If you’re willing to learn, just jump in with both feet and you won’t look back. It’s so rewarding, and I wish I’d done it years ago. You’re never just a number at Visioncall; they always make sure you know that you’re doing a great job. I didn’t think I was much of a ‘people person’ before starting this job. I was always very shy about meeting new people. But since working for Visioncall, my confidence is through the roof, and I feel like I can talk to anyone now. It’s helped me both inside and outside of work, and it’s made me a much more confident person. If I could have done this years ago, I would have done.