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Special school eye care service

 

Blog headlines

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  • Special school eye care service
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    This week we are sharing an article on improving eyecare services for children and young people with learning disabilities and/or autism who are 28 times more likely to have a sight problem. This piece explores how a service has been developed to improve outcomes for these children.

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  • The potential for case finding patients with cardiovascular disease in a dental setting
    10 June 2021

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  • Using population health data to inform ARRS recruitment
    3 June 2021

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Thursday, 7 October 2021

Special school eye care service

This week we are sharing an article on improving eyecare services for children and young people with learning disabilities and/or autism who are 28 times more likely to have a sight problem. This piece explores how a service has been developed to improve outcomes for these children.

The importance of good eye health is well known, especially in children.  What is also known is that children and young people with learning disabilities and/or autism often have difficulty ‘seeing the world’ in the same way as other children/young people.  Children and young people with learning disabilities are 28 times more likely to have a serious sight problem and 50% of these children and young people have a problem with their vision and at least 1/3 will need glasses.

A promise within the NHS Long Term plan was to provide a fully funded eye care and glasses service to all special school students and NHS England has developed an in-school Eye Care Service for all children and young people in special schools across England. This service will ensure that these children have the best possible outcomes.

The service has been developed with SeeAbility who have been providing this service since 2013 in three areas of England and are now working in seven schools in London under this programme.

Gavin Rathmell of NHS England had said about this service “In the NHS there is much talk about tackling health inequalities and this brand-new service seeks to do just that.  To improve the sight of so many children who ordinarily struggle to access these services, gives each child far more opportunities to engage in day-to-day life.  For many, it really will be life changing”

What this service will do is help identify these issues and support teachers, parents and children/young people to use their vision in the best way, helping them with communication skills, mobility and independence.

They are doing this by providing an eye care team comprised of an optometrist and a dispensing optician into the school where they will deliver sight tests and dispense glasses, all funded by the NHS.  To support the special needs and help to address the health inequalities they experience, both the sight test and dispensing are all completed on the school premises.  The team working in the school is consistent as this helps build the relationship with the school, parents and the children.

The service has been rolled out in the North West of England and they are in the middle of the recruitment and training of clinicians to provide these services in North East and Yorkshire. The recruitment and training for this latter region has been supported by PCC.

Rupesh Bagdai who is an optometrist providing this service in the North West has said “We are actually making a real difference to children’s lives by giving them sight. The children have taken to us and it’s an exciting experience for them to go and see the optician, some children are now asking when they can come back to see us. I can say without doubt that delivering this service is the most rewarding work I have been involved in my career to date”

To help raise the awareness and understanding of the service NHS England has produced 3 short information films for schools, parents/carers and clinicians.

If you would like to find out more or register an interest for when your region rolls out, please contact england.specialschooleyecareservice@nhs.net.