Comment from Australia’s Optometry Associations
While we’re only just tidying up after SRC 2013, already we’re preparing for 2014. SRC is always a treat for us. So many members from Victoria, the other states and increasingly New Zealand getting together in one place is so exciting!
The constant chatter between sessions: ‘what did you think of that?’… ‘I reckon I’ll be making some changes to how I …’, and ‘I’m really looking forward to trying …’ reminds us there is something special about face-to-face CPD.
The constant chatter between sessions… reminds us there is something special about face-to-face CPD
It is also great to see members engaging with exhibitors – exploring new equipment, finding out more about new contact lens options and solutions, and talking with our partners who are doing great work in promoting eye health both within Australia and beyond. It is clear that this conference is not just about CPD.
New Summer Dates for 2014
Delegates at SRC this year were reminded constantly of the new summer dates for SRC from 2014. From cupcakes with the 2014 logo, to the SRC summer booth, the branded highlighter pens, and even ‘summer’ songs included by the DJ at dinner – we are pretty confident that everyone in attendance got the message: SRC IS MOVING PERMANENTLY TO A SUMMER TIME SLOT.
But in case you didn’t, SRC 2014 will run from Saturday 1 – Monday 3 March. (I realise this is not technically summer but in a quick Google search I found out that the ‘real’ first day of summer in the Southern hemisphere is the Summer Solstice… so summer it is). And for the real planners among you – and I know you are there – you can mark your diaries for SRC 2015 now too, it will run from 21–23 February.
Although we originally changed the SRC dates because of difficulties securing the venue in our traditional mid year slot, we think the change will be welcomed. With our riverside location, the idea of leaving a day of lectures and walking out into the warm daylight is gorgeous. Imagine, a walk along the river, open-air dinner at Southbank or a tram ride to St Kilda beach – perfect. Yes, the cloakroom will say goodbye to umbrellas and woolly coats and welcome your sunhats.
OAA Renewals Now Due
We are still processing annual OAA membership renewals. So if you haven’t opened the renewal email, now is definitely the time.
Remember your Association is here to represent the profession and support you in your work. If you have any questions or ideas, contact us on (AUS) 03 9652 9100 or [email protected].
It’s all action at our WA division as we add the finishing touches to WAVE 2013, which takes place from 9–11 August at the Pan Pacific Hotel in Perth.
Once again we have arranged an impressive line-up of high profile speakers from the eye care profession. Among them are optometrists John Mountford and Jessica Chi, academics Dr. Laura Ayton, Dr. Lisa Keay, Professor David Mackey and the OAA’s very own Jared Slater.
John Mountford is a much awarded optometrist who specialises in contact lenses for keratoconus, post-PK, paedriatric aphakia, orthokeratology and the medical applications of scleral lenses. He has published numerous papers and articles on silicone lenses, scleral lenses and Orthokeratology as well as text-book chapters.
Dr. Lauren Ayton is a Clinical Research Coordinator at Bionic Vision Australia and a clinician at the Centre for Eye Research Australia. A qualified optometrist, she has also worked in traumatic brain injury and eye movements.
Dr. Lisa Keay is a Senior Research Fellow at The George Institute for Global Health and Senior Lecturer at the Sydney School of Medicine, University of Sydney. She currently leads a research study evaluating a program to promote safe mobility for older drivers and a longitudinal cohort study evaluating falls risk in older people with cataract.
Optometrist Jessica Chi has extensive experience prescribing all forms of contact lenses, including speciality lenses. She manages a diverse range of patients with ocular conditions ranging from keratoconus, corneal transplants, post refractive surgery, ocular trauma and paediatric aphakia.
Prof David Mackey David is internationally recognised as a genetic ophthalmologist with over 200 publications. He runs the Twins Eye Study, Norfolk Island Eye Study and the Raine Eye Health Study in Western Australia.
Jared Slater is the Optometrists Association Australia national professional services manager. He manages the Association’s professional indemnity policy with AVANT and supports members with clinical and medico-legal advice to help identify and manage their potential risk exposure.
Along with all of these speakers (and more), we have secured a fabulous group of suppliers to the eye care profession for the WAVE exhibition. This is the perfect opportunity to gather information, make product comparisons and build relationships with suppliers. We’ll have a further opportunity to network with suppliers, colleagues and presenters at the WAVE Sundowner – our convention cocktail party, which will take place in the hotel late on Saturday afternoon, overlooking picturesque the Swan River.
CPR Refresher Course
In the lead up to WAVE we will run a CPR refresher course. This course, which is a requirement for practising optometrists to meet their Optometry Board Australia registration standard, will run on Friday
9 August at the same venue. You don’t have to be attending WAVE to come along (as much as we’d like you to).
WAVE 2013 will take up the entire convention floor at the Pan Pacific Hotel, located in the heart of the city, alongside the business, retail and entertainment precincts.
The Pan Pacific Hotel is just 30 minutes drive from the airport and within a walk of buses and trains. If you’re looking to explore Perth and surrounds while you’re here, you’ll enjoy the hotel’s proximity to the Barrack Street Jetty, the Perth Mint and the restaurants and wineries of the Swan Valley.
Download a WAVE registration form at www.optometrists.asn.au/wave.
One of last year’s top 10 priorities was to market our profession to general practitioners and pharmacists via meetings with their associations, and in doing so, to develop improved awareness plans and referral tools. As a result, in 2012 we attended several meetings with both parties as well as a number of profession-based conferences, including the General Practitioner Conference and Exhibition (GPCE). Our aim was to encourage awareness of the optometrists’ scope of practice and to promote the significance of working together to encourage an improved co-managed approach to patient care.
In a bid to further develop relationships between optometrists and general practitioners, the OAA QLD/NT Division will attend the GPCE again in Brisbane this September. GPCE comprises 23 seminars and 60 hands-on workshops delivered by expert speakers. It also provides access to over 100 leading healthcare organisations, all in the one location.
The conference delivers innovative solutions and practical strategies for improving patient care and has been recognised by GPs as a major clinical educational event on the GP calendar. It has been running in Sydney for 18 years and in Melbourne for 11 years.
Allied Health Care
While acknolwedging the importance of promoting optometry to general practitioners and pharmacists at profession based events and meetings during 2013–14, we realise this is not enough. We also need to focus on improving one-on-one relationships with primary and allied health care professionals. This is crucial in securing an improved co-managed approach to patient care, and it’s something we are working hard to achieve.
Earlier this year we reported on the efforts of Gold Coast optometrist Jonathan McCorriston who joined the Gold Coast Medicare Local’s Allied Health Advisory Group, based in Burleigh. This group, which meets on a monthly basis, made the decision to seek an optometrist and diabetic educator member in an attempt to improve their discussions with other health professionals on the enhancement of Allied Health Care on the Gold Coast.
Additionally, discussions earlier this year with some of our public hospitals have resulted in the trial of improved referral pathways to test the effectiveness of adequate referrals versus general referrals as a means of reducing patient waiting lists.
Efforts like these are encouraged and can be supported if needed.
We continue to seek support from Queensland Health and each of the 17 Hospital and Health Services for our division’s proposal to reduce public hospital waiting lists, initially for diabetic patients requiring eye health screening. This is about ensuring patients get the care they need sooner and will better assist optometrists in providing pre and post-operative care for patients in hospital including assisting in after care strategies.
We are hopeful that our presence at this year’s GPCE in Brisbane will continue to promote awareness of the Association to GPs and further reinforce the role of optometrists in supporting an improved, co-managed approach to patient care. Ideally we will encourage clearer referral pathways, which will ensure more patients are diagnosed and treated sooner.
For the ninth consecutive year, the Tasmanian Division of the Optometrists Association Australia provided free eye screening and promoted eye health and safety at Agfest, which ran from 2–4 May. Just like Agfest itself, the Agfest Eye Centre seems to get bigger and better every year – our Centre really was a hive of activity.
Our Tasmania President, Karen Garner, reported that the volunteers conducted 667 screenings compared to 500 in 2012. The increased attendance was due in no small way to the pre-Agfest publicity on local radio stations and in community newspapers. Tasmanian CEO, Geoff Squibb said “the office has not had a chance to analyse and record the vast amount of information provided on the survey forms completed by participants, however some anecdotal evidence provided by volunteers gives a clear message that we still have much to do to create an awareness of eye health and the need for regular eye tests by an optometrist”.
Some of the feedback from optometrists who volunteered their time at the Agfest Eye Centre was quite disturbing. A great number of participants they screened had either never had an eye test previously or had not had one in the last four years. A significant number indicated that they wear ready-mades for reading.
There seemed to be more people failing the Amsler test this year and an increasing number of glaucoma suspects. At least one person was referred to their local optometrist as a possible macular degeneration case. Another was thought to have eyelid cysts (chalazion) and it was recommended that they see an ophthalmologist.
Alarmingly, it was suggested to a significant number that their vision failed to meet the driving standards and that in fact they should not be legally able to drive home.
It was interesting also to note the number of children who brought their reluctant parent, usually the father, aged 60+ in for their first eye check. In most cases there were major vision deficiencies.
A number of Tasmanian members have since indicated that they have received patients in the weeks following Agfest who were actually referred from Agfest or heard the message on radio. Our Tasmanian OAA office has fielded more phone enquiries about eye checks in the few weeks following Agfest than we have in the past six years.
Ms. Garner said, “I think the message is starting to get out there but there is still a long way to go in our endeavours to have the public undertaking regular eye tests as a means of reducing avoidable blindness”.
Centenary of Optometry TLC 23–25 August
Registrations for the Centenary of Optometry Tasmania’s Lifestyle Congress are filling very quickly. Early bird registrations have now closed and registrations will be closed off once the venue’s daily capacity has been reached. If you intend to register, please avoid disappointment by registering today.
Details of the program and the registration form can be downloaded from the OAA Tas website:
Our South Australia division has identified two key external strategic areas to develop over the next three years. Together these will help us build a thriving profession where optometrists are working closely together and are fully utilised by government and the community.
The first of these areas is to ensure optometry is utilised to the max by influencing government policies, and
by driving more referrals from pharmacies and General Practitioners. Already we’re working with the national office to have the Medicare cap removed and we’re helping members develop specialisations that will differentiate them from the competition and encourage referral business.
Another area we’re working on is to enhance the professional satisfaction of our clinicians. Many of our members have reported that working in a practice for eight hours a day results in them feeling professionally isolated. So we will be working on facilitating more opportunities to network and learn from colleagues at informal events.
We will also be looking after optometrists who have taken parental leave by, for example, offering educational Mothers Groups, complete with a crèche. This will allow our new parents to come along, network with colleagues and still achieve their CPD requirements. Some of our members have expressed concern that, as the market is tightening, professional standards are slipping. We’ll be looking at a variety of ways optometrists can continue to be the best we can be, and to offer patients the very best eye care, while also remaining competitive.
SA Blue Sky Congress: November 15–16
Registrations are now open for Blue Sky. This is the last of the Association’s conferences for the year and as such, the perfect way to acquire any CPD points.