Best Patient Support or Education Initiative

This honour is designed to recognise the development of innovative support or education initiatives that have made a significant and measurable difference to improve outcomes and quality of life for patients.


South Warwickshire NHS Foundation Trust
Vulnerable Adult Ophthalmology Service

The South Warwickshire NHS Foundation Trust (SWFT) ophthalmology team identified a need for a bespoke multi-disciplinary service for users with dementia, as well as other vulnerable adults with learning difficulties or mental health concerns. A multi-professional project group was set up to review current provision and to design a pathway to facilitate access.

Honouree - Vulnerable Adult Ophthalmology Service - South Warwickshire NHS Foundation Trust

In response to this, the Vulnerable Adult Ophthalmology Service was launched in July 2017. Each clinic is supported by a multi-disciplinary team who have undergone dementia awareness and learning needs training. Additional time is allocated as required and all necessary diagnostic testing is undertaken during the clinic attendance. A process to identify link personnel for each individual has also been put in place.

Referrals are received directly into the service and include information regarding diagnosis and support required, so that staff can plan care in advance of the clinic.

Care plans are developed with the patient and relatives/carer, so that appropriate steps can be put in place to facilitate ongoing support. This includes further outpatient attendance with allocated time and personnel, support for surgical procedures and extra time on surgical lists to facilitate surgery under local anaesthesia.

Why this was chosen

“A practical and pragmatic initiative to support a vulnerable population, enabling staff to devote more time to a neglected group of patients with special needs. A best practice that could be implemented more widely as a triaging service to provide an initial assessment to this special population.”

Key learnings

  • Real demand exists for this service and users, carers and relatives have provided positive feedback
  • It is important to involve all stakeholders at project level, including patients, carers/relatives where possible
  • Criteria for referral need to be very specific to avoid inappropriate use
  • While this is not an initiative where the prime objective is improved cost-effectiveness, its focus is the improvement to patient outcomes and quality of life. A secondary gain is the improved clinic flow in other services unable to meet the needs of these adults

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