It was only a few months ago that the Vision Initiative Pilot Projects were launched by Vision 2020 Australia and the Victorian Minister for Health, the Hon David Davis MLC in Melbourne. Since then, it has been all systems go for the Vision Initiative team.
The new pilot projects aim to strengthen relations between the health and eye health sector and increase the number of at-risk people having an eye test in the local government areas of Darebin, Greater Geelong, Greater Shepparton and Latrobe. In each area, concentrated activity will be delivered through health services and local community organisations to target those people at-risk of eye disease.
So what have we been up to since the pilot projects were launched officially on World Sight Day?
Our focus has been on the recruitment of health and eye health professionals in to the pilot projects, the roll out of professional training, and the development of activity targeting those at-risk of eye disease tailored for each area. Let’s take a look in more detail below.
We’ve had some fantastic support from the Medicare Locals, General Practice Victoria, Pharmaceutical Society of Australia – Vic Branch, Optometrists Association Australia – Vic Branch and the Australian College of Optometry to assist in the recruitment of GPs, practices nurses, pharmacists and optometrists.
It is great to see the initiative receiving an enthusiastic welcome from many eye health and health professionals who would like to be involved. For example, Greater Shepparton is leading the way, with great engagement from the Goulburn Valley Medicare Local and Primary Care Partnership as well as professionals from all four specialties already signed up to the pilot project.
While health professionals such as Pharmacists, GPs and practice nurses will not be required to change their current practices, the Vision Initiative is working on training that embeds eye health messages within current day-to-day work. Training focuses on assisting with the identification of people at-risk of eye disease as part of their every day practice and prompting health professionals to ask the question “When was your last eye test?”.
A webinar training session for pharmacists was developed and delivered in October 2013 which has been subsequently converted into face-to-face training for the areas of Greater Geelong, Greater Shepparton and Latrobe. Training is underway and will be completed by April 2014 for pharmacists.
Online GP and practice nurse training modules are currently being updated and going through reaccreditation for continuing professional development points. Additional face-to-face training for GPs is also in development with support from Goulbourn Valley Medicare Local.
Eye Health Kits which include a mix of referral tools and health promotion materials will be delivered to all participating professionals shortly that will help professionals identify and refer people at-risk of eye disease to participating eye health professionals.
At-risk of eye disease
The development of activity that will target those at-risk of eye disease in each community is progressing well.
In Shepparton, a community consultation will be held early April to ask residents of Shepparton what activity they would like to see implemented in their area. In Darebin, a large scale translation project is underway for some key Vision Initiative information sheets to assist with those from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds. In Latrobe we are working with Diabetes Australia – Vic on activity targeting residents of Latrobe with diabetes and are gearing up for our first in-pharmacy campaign in Greater Geelong that will commence in May.
It is exciting to see the Vision Initiative Pilot Projects come to life. We are witnessing great involvement and collaboration among eye health and health professionals in the early stages and can’t wait to see the projects blossom into their full potential.
Stephanie, Dee and Sarah
The Vision Initiative team