February 4th 2021

Visiting Your Optician: What to Expect in a COVID-Safe Practice

The coronavirus pandemic continues to bring changes to our lives both personally and professionally. Whilst the disruption felt at the start of the pandemic may not be as stark, it goes without saying that both our routines and how we interact with others have been transformed.

Opticians across the country remain open, providing essential care to patients in what are extremely challenging circumstances for both parties. This change can certainly be felt when we visit our opticians and, in today’s blog post we offer our advice on what to expect when visiting an optical practice during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Visiting your optician will be different under the current circumstances and will, inevitably, feel unusual compared to little over a year ago.

The environment will be one that you will not be accustomed to, however, it is important to remember that your optician will still seek to provide the very best service for you despite the current restrictions. Whilst these new requests may seem restrictive, they are there to protect the public and the practice and to limit the risk of transmitting COVID-19.

When booking your appointment, you may be asked by your optician if you have been in contact with any COVID-19 cases or if you have had symptoms of the virus. These simple questions help the practice to responsibly evaluate any risks posed by patients and to protect both staff and other patients.

Examinations are at the discretion of the practice and we must be mindful to respect their ultimate decision, which is never taken lightly, to provide care.

It is important to understand that the practice and its staff are working under very difficult and unusual circumstances and will ask you as the patient to follow the rules they have in place based on government and regulator guidance.

This can take the form of a temperature reading being taken (upon entering the practice), to use hand sanitiser and a request to wear a face mask. Whilst these provisions may feel impersonal, they are in place to assist and to keep everyone safe.

For children especially, these changes can be intimidating. We suggest having a conversation with your little one prior to their examination and to discuss what they can expect to experience. By discussing any worries and preparing them for the visit, you can assist the optical professional to diligently and effectively help and to allay any concerns or fears that your child may have.

Examinations and the service you receive will generally take longer than what you may be accustomed to. Whilst this is frustrating for all, we urge patience from the public.

Practices may be understaffed compared to normal service and please be assured that all at your opticians are working hard to deliver the very best service they can. Likewise, for professionals, we suggest an open conversation with your patients to draw attention to longer wait times and service.

At the heart of adapting to these changes is one concept that we believe all can benefit from: mindfulness. Mindfulness allows us to show both compassion and empathy to others and can help to diffuse tension. By applying the practice of mindfulness, we can be more receptive and adaptive to a new way of working.

The OCCS would like to reiterate our commitment to both professionals and the public in these difficult times. We thank all for their understanding in what are extremely challenging circumstances.

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