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New sight loss support service launches

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By Fiona Reid
New sight loss support service launches

A LOCKERBIE man has welcomed a new sight loss support service for the region.

Fred Birch, 89, attended the official launch of the service in Dumfries on Tuesday and hailed it as good news for the area.

The 89-year-old, who lost his eyesight during the covid pandemic and was unable to get support, said: “It’s bound to be a good idea – pulling everything together to advise what is best, with the collective knowledge and experience.

“It’s bound to be better.”

Over 6000 people live with sight loss in Dumfries and Galloway and the new partnership service between RNIB Scotland and NHS Dumfries and Galloway aims to help them.

It will provide more structured support when they receive what can be a devasting diagnosis.

Eye care liaison officers (ECLOs) will help patients talk through their concerns and provide advice on how to lessen any impact their eye condition may have on daily life.

LAUNCH . . . representatives fom RNIB, Scotland, NHS Dumries and Galloway, and Sensory support team members from Social Services at Tuesday’s launch 

Ophthalmology senior charge nurse Derek Beeton said it will make a major difference in Dumfries and Galloway: “It is a great example of positively and effectively bridging the gap between health and social care for the benefit of patients.

“Despite ongoing innovations and developments, sight loss sadly continues to be something many patients face and can have a profound impact on their level of independence and wellbeing. The introduction of an ECLO will provide our patients, their relatives and carers with the practical and emotional support necessary to understand their diagnosis, adapt to living with sight loss, and ultimately retain as much of their independence as possible.”

Agreeing, Somar Ferguson of the Sensory Support Team within Dumfries and Galloway Council, said: “We welcome RNIB Scotland to Dumfries and Galloway and value this excellent development and resource for our sight loss community.”

And NHS clinical service manager Jo Birch added: “The prospect of losing one’s eyesight can be traumatic and scary.

“Every single year, many people within our region will be given that diagnosis, and will then embark on that journey.

“As people adjust to loss of eyesight they can go through a whole range of emotions, such as shock, denial, anger, fear and grief,

“We know that emotional assurance as well as practical advice and support can make a big difference to someone in this situation.”

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