Cheryl Northwood is an optometrist in a home visits team based in Nottinghamshire. Four years ago, she moved from working in a store to domiciliary. She shares what it’s like to do the job.
What do you enjoy about working in domiciliary?
I get to spend more time with my patients than I did working in a store. I can learn more about their needs and so provide better care. They really appreciate this level of service, as do their families. It’s so rewarding being able to make that difference and feel like part of the community.
How are things set up in home visits?
Whether it’s out and about with a colleague, back in the office or on a training day, I always work closely with my team.
They arrange and plan my appointments, making sure my day runs as smoothly as possible. As well as managing my schedule, they’re also on hand if I need any advice – even if it’s just to do with traffic or the weather.
Appointments are based on a slot rather than a fixed time. This allows for breaks or any travel delays, so you’re not rushing from one place to another. It also gives me the chance to reflect on my last visit before moving on to the next one.
It all sounds pretty straightforward…
Well, like any job, some days are more taxing than others. You can get last minute cancellations, problems on the road or patients with particularly challenging needs. But I have far more good days than bad ones.
I’m really happy I made the move into home visits. It’s helped develop my skills and given me a greater sense of accomplishment. Plus, I get to travel around and have my weekends back!
What advice would you give someone interested in joining home visits?
Go on a taster day. It’s what I first did and it opened my eyes. While I was working in a store, I’d heard a lot of rumours about what to expect (and what not to expect) from domiciliary. Seeing a home visits team in action for myself showed me what it was really like and the impact it has on patients. You get paid for your time, there’s no obligation and you can talk to the people who actually do the job.