1. How many optical practices do you own and what area of the country are your businesses in?
My business partner and I have four Specsavers practices in Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire, Long Eaton, Beeston, Ilkeston and Eastwood.
2. How many staff members do you have across all branches?
We employ 130 people across all four stores in a range of roles including: receptionists, optical assistants and lead optometrists.
3. Why do you think it is important that optical businesses follow standards?
I think the GOC providing a document listing the standards that all staff of a registered optical business should uphold is very important – not least to protect the public and minimise risks but also to show that we are accountable as a business. With a set of standards, we can provide consistent service and optimise patient care. Another important reason is because we must commit to high business standards to give the public confidence in our services.
4. How do you think the Standards will personally help you as an optical business owner?
At the core, the standards help give me a better understanding of what is expected of me. They also help me coach, guide and support other GOC registrants in their everyday clinical practice and aid their development. It’s great to have an externally ratified framework of high standards of conduct to refer to and to explain to staff. If we make sure we all meet the standards, that is personally reassuring but we can also make sure that we exceed these to be at the forefront of the profession.
5. What are common problems you face meeting standards as an optical business owner?
In terms of record keeping it used to be a problem ensuring the correct procedures and processes were in place when everything was on paper, but thankfully since we went paperless it has minimised risk, as there is a consistency in the level of patient care and record-keeping. An area where there could be vulnerability is in dealing with patients who have disabilities or a language barrier, but support is available to provide best patient care.
6. How will you raise awareness about the standards with your staff?
We have two online learning modules, one for optometrists and another for all other staff members. The modules ensure that everyone is up to date and adequately trained with the required skills and knowledge to meet the demand of the evolving optical landscape.
We also hold training sessions for all members of staff and fully brief them about new requirements / standards. We also let them know of any upcoming webinars or relevant external training events. Our internal training sessions provide an important opportunity for staff to ask questions or raise any concerns they may have about meeting standards or fulfilling requirements.
I will make sure that I am available for anyone who requires further clarification / support and I will also provide a copy of the new standards to all staff members. We will be notifying staff about the upcoming business standards webinar on the 24th October.
7. How will you use the new business standards in your practices?
I’ll definitely revisit and update all our operating procedures and ensure that as a business we meet all the new standards. We’ll also highlight any changes to staff and update our training and make sure that all staff are on the same level and deliver a consistently high standard of care.
8. Are there any standards that you feel you will struggle to achieve or maintain?
I don’t feel I’ll struggle as the new standards are in line with best practice and my own expectations for myself and our teams. Maintaining them is equally important to me, so we’ll have training sessions that refer to the behaviour expected in the standards, that I feel will help deliver a culture of excellence within our business.
9. What kind of additional help/support would you like to see the GOC provide to business registrants (in terms of applying or understanding the standards)?
It would be helpful for the GOC to host a webinar/or publish a video outlining what is expected of the business registrants to ensure we are all on the same page. It would also be useful if they could give us examples and perhaps publish case studies monthly or quarterly for better understanding and delivery.*
*Editor’s note: We will consider this suggestion along with other ideas about how to continue to promote awareness of the business standards.