Esther Crossley, a domiciliary optical assistant based in South Yorkshire, shares how it’s never too late to change direction.
I was a dental nurse for 10 years. I loved everything about it – the work, the patients and the career opportunities. But after becoming a mother, I found it increasingly difficult to balance the role with looking after my children. It got to the point where financially I was better off not working. So, I took a break to focus on raising my two kids.
After six years, I decided to find something that fitted with my husband’s job and the school run. I started off as a cleaner for a holiday cottage company. But it wasn’t what I really wanted to be doing. I was after something more fulfilling that involved helping people.
That’s what drew me to Home Visits. I had some domiciliary experience as a dental nurse, so I didn’t have any hang ups about going into people’s homes. Plus, the hours worked around my childcare commitments.
No experience? No problem
I was initially concerned that I didn’t have a background in eyecare. It wasn’t an issue. My induction included two weeks of in-house training, followed by two weeks on the road with another optical assistant. I enjoyed the practical side the most, as I like learning something as I’m doing it.
I started last November and I’m loving the job. The best thing about it is making someone’s day. Many take their eyesight for granted. But for the people I meet, it’s a big deal, especially if they’re on their own.
They’re often indoors and only have four walls to look at. So, it can be very frustrating when you can’t see what’s on them. Getting new glasses makes a huge difference. They’re able to do things they haven’t done for a while – look at family photos, read or do puzzles. I’m proud of the service we provide. It’s something I want for my own parents as they get older.
My journey’s just beginning
Four months in and I’m still learning. In addition to the support from my manager and my team, I’ve also been doing some online training. There’s so much involved in the role with plenty of room for development. This is something I want to pursue further now the kids are older.
My advice for anyone interested in becoming an optical assistant is go for it. Don’t worry if you haven’t got the experience, you just need the right attitude. And you get to meet interesting people, so you never get bored!