A day in the life of a sight loss Enablement Officer

My name is Maria and I am a sight loss Enablement Officer for Henshaws, covering the Tameside area. I am writing this “Day in the Life” blog during the COVID-19 pandemic, and so my days are looking very different from when I am actively in the hub in Dukinfield!

The Tameside hub

A usual day in the office for me would include telephone or face-to-face appointments with service users, facilitating 6-week Living with Sight Loss courses, running social groups, and supporting the volunteers who run their own groups.

During these appointments and sessions, I offer both practical and emotional support to our service users who are experiencing sight loss, help them gain some of their independence back, help with their confidence, and impart knowledge on what they are entitled to.

With the service users consent, these sessions usually require me to make referrals to outside organisations, such as the local council’s sensory team, to fill in the gaps for the services we are unable to offer (such as mobility training or adaptations to the home).

During the pandemic this routine has changed; although we are still supporting our service users, we must do so remotely for now. This means we are using the telephone or technology, to keep in touch – for example, wee are delivering our Living with Sight Loss courses and social groups via video conference calls.

Charles Bonnet Syndrome

Regular peer-to-peer support groups

I thought I would give you an insight into what would be one of my busiest working days, which is when I run the weekly coffee morning group. The first thing the group requires is the setting up of the room – filling up the hot water dispensers for the drinks (any member of the group will know how many brews we get through in one session!), putting out the light refreshments, and patiently waiting for my members to arrive. I always make sure I have any updates, or any relevant news for the group, typed up in large print the day before so that there is always something they can hopefully take away with them.

Once my members arrive, I sit them down and make sure they are comfortable, and then the chatting begins (and does not stop for the whole 2 hours!) Everybody gets a chance to speak in the group, and if anybody has any questions relating to their sight, then they are encouraged to raise them, as we are always happy to help in any way we can. The best part about the social groups is that we have members of the group who have lived with their sight loss for many years, and others who have only just recently been diagnosed. This allows for some members to impart their knowledge onto those who have only just started their journey.

This network of people is vital for some of our service users, as it can be where they learn the most about what is available to them, and what has worked/not worked well for others. A one-to-one session is a great way to start, but because of how much information is given in one session, it is best for this information to be reiterated again with first-hand experiences – when there is a relaxed environment the individual can feel confident about what feels like the best course of action for them.

These social groups are also friendship groups, where great connections are made. Every single member of the group are warm and welcoming, and new members are always welcomed with open arms. I am very grateful that I have such an inclusive group.

After the group has finished, I clear everything away and then get on with my other tasks for the day, such as any appointments booked in, emails that need answering, and personal plans that need completing.

Friendship Matters Hiking Group
Image shows a young woman wearing a pink Henshaws tshirt, holding up a sign that says 'support.'

Further support

No one day is the same, as every person’s journey is unique. I hope this gives you an insight into the variation of my role; if you live in the Tameside area and have a visual impairment, please do get in touch by calling 0300 222 5555 or email info@henshaws.org.uk to discuss how we can support you.

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