Glasgow-based Clinical Director Phil Kelly tells us about his role with Visioncall and what makes the difference when it comes to equipment and testing in a domiciliary setting.
What did you do before joining Visioncall, and how did you join the team?
I’ve been with Visioncall since July 2006, but before that, I was working at a leading high street optician in Glasgow. I was becoming frustrated with the lack of emphasis on patient care shown by the high street opticians; it was always a numbers game. I knew someone who was working with Visioncall, and they recommend I try it. I came on board as a domiciliary optometrist and progressed to Clinical Lead within 18 months, and I became a Joint Venture Partner three years ago.
How do you find working in a domiciliary environment versus in-practice care?
It was a little daunting, to begin with, as any new role is, however, the team were so friendly and luckily, I already knew some of my colleagues from working with them previously in high street practice, so I found it easy to settle in. It’s a much more rewarding role for me, especially when you visit someone for an eye examination, and they’re just so pleased to speak to someone new. This became particularly apparent during the pandemic when our patients were getting very few visitors if any. Some people could talk to you all day, and you really feel that you’re making a difference in their lives.
How different are the equipment and testing procedures that you use in a domiciliary setting?
It’s not very different at all, so the transition between in-practice and domiciliary is fairly straightforward. We use the mandatory equipment set out by governing bodies, essentially the same as is used in-practice, but it’s portable. We don’t have the facility for some of the newer equipment at the moment, such as fundus photography or OCT, but with technological developments occurring at the rate that they are, this may not be too far off. In terms of testing and working with our patients, that’s the biggest change.
Every day is different. There are many different types of cognitive impairments that our patients are living with, as well as some who have no impairment at all. We treat every patient as an individual, addressing their specific needs and carrying out the tests that are appropriate to them. It’s so important that a Visioncall optometrist understands the massive variation in patients that we deal with, and is able to understand how vitally important communication is with our patients; not only in explaining the outcomes of the tests but also being able to explain exactly what you are doing and why you are doing it. Soft skills are a huge part of the role, especially when catering to our patient’s needs, so Visioncall offers regular dementia training which is invaluable for our team.
What would you say to other optometrists considering a move into domiciliary?
If you’re searching for a challenging but rewarding role, where you can really make a difference, domiciliary eyecare with Visioncall should be your first choice. You will never want to work in high street practice again.