Lynne’s story: from optical assistant to domiciliary partner
Earlier this year, Lynne Phillips became the first Home Visits audiology partner. She shares her journey over the last 17 years with Specsavers, and why she loves her current role.
I started off as an optical assistant, back in 2005, at my local store in East Kilbride. Initially I worked part time, so I could concentrate on raising my children. Once they were older, my boss encouraged me to become a dispensing optician.
I was reluctant at first because I was in my thirties, and it had been a long time since I had to do any studying. But she had great faith in my potential, and this was enough to persuade me to go back to school.
My journey to becoming qualified in 2016 was life changing. It made me more confident, professionally and personally. It opened my eyes to opportunities to further my career and better myself.
Hungry for more
I went on to become a retail manager at a store in Bellshill, just south of Glasgow. I was part of a very successful team, that had a strong focus on looking after the people coming through the door. Our achievements didn’t go unnoticed as we won awards for excellence in customer service in 2018 and 2019. I was so proud, and I wanted to be a bigger part of what we were building.
I had a great relationship with the store partners, who never stopped supporting my development. They were so pleased when I discussed partnership with them. Because I’d shown an interest in audiology, they suggested that I get the relevant qualifications as a route into joining the business. It was time to hit the books again.
Things were going well – and then the pandemic happened. Covid and lockdown affected stores in different ways and forced many to review their plans. Unfortunately, the opportunity to become a partner at Bellshill was no longer available. I was so gutted, but life has a funny way of surprising you when you least expect it.
Out of the blue
Not long after I became a registered hearing aid dispenser in August 2021, I got a phone call about a new role within Home Visits. I have to be honest – up to that point, I knew little about domiciliary care. That all changed when I went on a shadow day. I was instantly hooked. I saw the difference it was making to people’s lives and I knew it was for me.
I’ve been a partner since February in a business covering Edinburgh and the surrounding area. I absolutely love it. It’s quite different from being in a store. You do need to plan in advance the best route for appointments and make sure you’ve packed the right equipment. Fortunately, it’s not a problem for me as I’m a very organised person!
While there’s much to learn, I get plenty of support – from the people I work with, who are amazing, and from domiciliary colleagues across the UK and Ireland. No matter how big or small my question, there’s always someone who can answer it. Whether that’s through a phone call, a text or on WhatsApp. Everybody looks after everybody. In a store, I was part of a team. In Home Visits, I’m part of a family.
Being a partner brings more than just financial rewards
A lot, but not all, of my customers are elderly. They don’t get to see people that often so they’re very grateful for the visit. So, I’ve not just improved their ability to hear, I’ve also improved their mood. And it’s their families I’m helping as well. It means a relation doesn’t need to take them to the high street, which can be stressful if they’re not mobile.
I’ve now got more time to spend with customers and get to know them, to better understand their needs. Seeing them in a store, they’d be quite anonymous. Being in their home means you see their photos, medals and other memorabilia. This helps start a conversation which builds that rapport.
Plus, I get to hear some fantastic stories. Like when I met Scotland’s first female architect. It was fascinating listening to her experiences and the barriers she faced. She’s a true pioneer. Now, I’ve made a bit of history myself as the first Home Visits audiology partner.
I won’t be the last
There’s a huge need and demand for domiciliary hearing care. There are so many who are house bound due to poor physical or mental health. We can now go to them and test their ears or do wax removal. I want Home Visits to grow so the service is available to everyone. I don’t want anyone to miss out.
I’ve had a long career with Specsavers, but things are far from over. In fact, I’m just warming up. Becoming a domiciliary partner has really energised me.
I get so much more out of my job now. I feel like I’m part of the community I work in, and my life is richer for it. And I enjoy the freedom it’s given me. Even the little things make me happy – like driving to my next appointment, singing my heart out to Keith Urban!