Ben Sykes is an RNIB (Royal National Institute of Blind People) Eye Clinic Liaison Officer (ECLO) and his clinic is based in The Countess of Chester Hospital.
Ben has Leber’s Hereditary Optic Neuropathy (LHON), which is central vision loss that affects the optic nerve behind the eye. He is severely sight impaired.
Describe your typical day
As an ECLO, every day can be different and brings its own exciting challenges. It can range from seeing patients face to face, to speaking with individuals on the phone. More so, it can involve attending team or departmental meetings, along with interacting with colleagues. Typically, I will receive self-referrals, referrals from hospital staff or the wider community, and the key is being there for the person concerned. The main things are to be on hand to provide both practical and emotional support to those effected by sight loss in any capacity. This can involve being an advocate, actively listening, explaining, and completing a certificate of visual impairment. I can also provide information on benefits and concessions, as well as referring others to valuable services.
What do you start with every day?
Each morning when arriving at clinic, I’ll do the rounds by letting the clinic staff know that I am in and available to see patients. This goes from the reception staff to the consultants. I will then look through and respond to any emails or correspondence I may have received, look at my calendar for any potential meetings scheduled and get myself prepped and organised for the day ahead.
What do you love about your job?
Being someone who lives with sight loss was a big motivation for wanting to do the job. I enjoy using my own experiences to both mine and others advantage where appropriate. I feel as though my own sight loss can assist in helping others relate to certain situations. I love the job satisfaction within my role. Being able to try and make life that little bit easier and as barrier free as possible is hugely fulfilling. It gives a sense of purpose to be able to provide information and signpost others in the right direction towards support and remaining as independent as possible.
What is your next step in your career?
For me, I enjoy my job and see myself continuing for the foreseeable future. I am determined to continue working within the eye care industry and progress if possible, in trying to make a difference to people’s lives, no matter how big or small.
What are the challenges?
Working for RNIB yet working in a hospital, means prioritising your time between two organisations. It is essential to build trust and good working relationships with those around you. Bearing this in mind, it is important to prioritise work but being readily available to those that need you. Things can change quite quickly working within a hospital environment, especially taking into account the situation over the past few years. It can be challenging to adapt to different situations, but it is something I like to think I take in my stride.
What do you do to wrap up the day and prepare for the next one?
I ensure that all important and personal information is stored away safely. I also like to give my colleagues some warning that I am leaving for the day. This is to prevent any disappointment in not being able to see an individual. I will also check to see if I have any meetings or appointments scheduled for the next day, which I feel is good practice.