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Company of the year.

K.A.R Associates Ltd (Ophthalmic Group)

THE OPHTHALMIC group was established in 2006, providing ophthalmic services to the general public and additional domiciliary services for the elderly and housebound in Leicestershire. OT spoke to principal optometrist and director, Umarfarouq Jussab.

"Vision awareness has been the company's main objective and we have established good relationships with primary schools in Leicester, providing a voluntary screening service for any child who the parent or teacher may feel needs attention with regards to vision. This helps children's academic future as well as their social confidence. We also provide education for other professionals and medical students from the University of Leicester in the art of ophthalmoscopy and refraction.

"We strive to differentiate the company from our multinational competitors by expanding our services to a niche market. We were the first business in Leicester to introduce our services to the homeless. The company has successfully established a very good relationship with other allied health professional in homeless health. Our unique approach has caught media attention, and we have received coverage in national magazine, Readers Digest as well as local press for our services to the homeless.

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"We provide services to the Leicestershire partnership trust NHS for all mental health individuals, children with learning difficulties, autism and dyslexia, and have a good rapport with consultants in the fields of medicine and psychology. The company has now become a referral point for eye health reports for all mental, autistic and learning difficulty patients. In 2010, our work was recognised, when the company won the Primary Care Award with the Leicester City Primary Care Trust.

Summing up what those involved in the business thought about being nominated, Mr Jussab said: "After six years of hard work in the current market, it's been an honour for the company to achieve recognition from its peers, public, patients and colleagues."

Wales Optometry Postgraduate Education Centre (WOPEC)

Situated in the school of Optometry and Vision Sciences at Cardiff University, WOPEC provides a dedicated facility for eye care education, offering a wide range of postgraduate courses for eye care professionals. OT spoke to co-directors, Nik Sheen (pictured back left) and Barbara Ryan (pictured centre back) about the nomination.

"WOPEC's objective is to ensure the provision of excellence in education and training for optometrists, we currently have more than 3,000 optometrists learning with us," said Dr Ryan. "Increasingly, optometrists are the first point of engagement for people with eye problems. Our core role is providing training and assessment for the optometrists who provide the Wales Eye Care Service (WECS), which has been a blueprint for the training we now provide to support the expansion of primary eye care services in England, including PEARS, low vision, glaucoma referral refinement and cataract."

Dr Sheen added: "In the last year, WOPEC has developed a flexible, supportive distance learning programme of postgraduate certificates, diplomas and MScs to enable optometrists to get tangible qualifications from courses which are often linked to enhanced services training. Working with Government, Optometry Wales, Local/Regional Optical Committees, Primary Care Trusts and LOCSU, we work to support the development of enhanced eye care services. This work has brought the Minister for Health and Social Services in Wales and the Secretary of State for Health to Cardiff to visit WOPEC and find out more about what we do. We tried hard to ensure they left with a better understanding of the many enhanced services optometrists are involved in, and hence raise the profile of optometry at a ministerial level."

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Dr Ryan concluded: "We are very excited about being nominated for the AOP Award. It feels great to be recognised by our peers. We hope we can live up to their expectations."

The Outside Clinic

Established in 1987, The Outside Clinic pioneered home visit optometry services in the UK. During our one-hour scheduled visits, each patient experiences a comprehensive optical service in the comfort and security of their own home. 2012 is the company's 25th anniversary, having grown from a small team to now 250 staff. OT caught up with head of professional services, Nick Wingate.

"In addition to providing eye examinations, we offer a complete spectacle dispensing service which is personally delivered. We continually invest in the most up-to-date portable equipment to ensure quality of care; all our optometrists use illuminated three-metre charts. As well as state-of-the-art diagnostic equipment, the Outside Clinic practitioner is at the forefront of expanding the role of modern community-based optometry. Even our record keeping is electronic to maximise the time spent with each patient.

"We invest in a wide range of lenses and frames, which means that our patients always have the most up-to-date technology and a choice. We offer free aftercare for a year and a helpline so patients can contact us if they have concerns or queries. We constantly look for ways to improve and expand our service, and did do so a few years ago by introducing a hearing service, to widen the range of services available to our patients.

"We believe there is still a chronic under-provision of domiciliary optometry services for over 60s unable to access services. The RNIB is one of the charities we have worked with to help raise awareness of the free NHS sight test they are entitled to. The feedback has been excellent, every day we get letters and emails from patients who are delighted with our service.

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"The nomination for this award is an incredible recognition for all our hard work."

All three companies are greatly appreciated by their clients and all are worthy winners. Vote for the company you think the most deserving by September 14, at www.optometry. co.uk/awards/company-of-the-year-2012 or send your vote to AOP Awards, 2 Woodbridge Street, London, EC1R 0DG. Results will be announced at the NOC in October and also in OT, following the event.
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Title Annotation:AOP AWARDS; K.A.R Associates Ltd., Wales Optometry Postgraduate Education Centre and The Outside Clinic
Publication:Optometry Today
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Aug 17, 2012
Words:980
Previous Article:CL practitioner of the year.
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