More than a DO

Simone Mason

ABDO Local Lead

How long have you been a Dispensing Optician?

I qualified in July 1992 so 26 years!!

What made you decide to be a Dispensing Optician?

I started to wear glasses when I was 11 and contact lenses when I was 15, so I was in the opticians a lot with my contact lens teaches, I knew I wanted to work with people and in a health care environment but I didn’t fancy being a nurse, so I chose an opticians for my work experience at 15 and the rest is history! I loved it!!

What's the best part of being a Dispensing Optician?

Every day is different, the different pathways available in the career to become more specialized – I went down a marketing, management pathway in the first 15 years of my career, had 2 boys and now they are becoming more independent, I joined an LOC and am now on a different, very exciting pathway as a Clinical Governance and Performance Lead (CGPL) for a Primary Eyecare Company.

Tell us about being an ABDO Local Lead.

I was invited to become an ABDO local lead for Midlands and The North of England in October 2016, this role aims to encourage and support other Opticians to join their local optical committees and to raise the profile of Dispensing Opticians and make a difference to the future of optics. I try and achieve this objective in all the out of work meetings and events I attend and via social media.

You are involved in the Clinical Governance and Performance Lead for Primary Eyecare (Heart of West Midlands) Ltd, what does that entail?

I joined the Solihull LOC in January 2016, and immediately I knew, that I would like to get more involved, so I was co-opted on almost immediately. It took me a while to have an understanding of what was going on in the area and also in the wider landscape with the local extended primary care services. I was offered the opportunity to help the Director and the CGPL of Primary Eyecare (Heart of West Midlands) to be involved in encouraging practices to get on board, to become accredited, to send out registration forms, check their contact and practice details were correct.  We then found out the CGPL was moving away and so I took the LOCSU course and took over from May 2017 after shadowing her for nearly a year.

The main responsibility of the role is to oversee the service, the accreditation process, making sure contractors meet all the governance requirements. I also attend review meetings with the Clinical Commissioning group (CCG), and produce reports and KPI’s for the CCG.

Other responsibilities for a CGPL are

  • Point of contact with Webstar Health (IT), commissioners and LOCs.
  • To attend and present reports to the board of the Primary Eyecare Company.
  • Monitoring and analysing subcontractor performance reports on a monthly basis to identify practices that require performance management intervention, then delivery of the interventions.
  • Communicating with the sub-contractors ie Emails and Newsletters.
  • Complaints Manager.

Further details are available on the LOCSU Website  under Training and Development section (CGPL)

You are also a Digital Learning and Support Officer for LOCSU, what does that involve?

Digital Learning Support Officer with Local Optical Committee Support Unit (LOCSU), the aim of the role is to develop and support the role of the Clinical Governance & Performance Lead and to shape and deliver CET-accredited learning for LOCSU. The role will help LOCSU to drive the online learning agenda, providing support for the current online programmes and develop new modules.

What advice would you give to someone thinking about training to be a dispensing optician?

I think the job involves so much variety, and I am probably even more passionate about my role now than I was 26 years ago, when I was just starting out! You get to work in a team, deal with the public which improves your customer service skills! You do repairs, have the fashion element when choosing frames, teach how to put contact lenses in and out, the technical side when learning about new lenses and other products, attend conferences and training events, and use high tech machines and carry out OCT. It’s a fantastic career with so many different avenues to explore ie paediatrics, Low vision, management, own practice, LOC, CGPL, Contact Lens optician, etc etc.

There is always so much to learn to keep you ahead-of the-game which I love!