Children who have been diagnosed with a vision impairment are benefiting from a brand-new, welcoming space, where they and their families can find practical and emotional support in comfort.  

Our charity has funded the colourful makeover of a meeting room where the Royal National Institute of Blind People’s (RNIB) specialist Eye Care Liaison Officer (ECLO) meets children and families.  

The ECLO, Talia Treen, offers practical and emotional support to children and their families, from diagnosis and throughout treatment, making both the clinical and non-clinical journey a lot smoother. This nurturing role offers much-needed comfort to families affected by sight loss at what is typically an emotionally overwhelming time.  

Talia works with patients and families to improve morale, identify their needs, access information relevant to them and lessen the emotional load by helping them make informed choices which enable and empower them to maintain independence. 

Parent Sukhi McDonald recently had a number of appointments with Talia with her seven-year-old daughter Remi who has nystagmus (rapid, involuntary eye movements), aniridia (enlarged pupils) and cataracts.  

She said: “Remi loved the new room. She was able to sit and colour in while I was talking to Talia. It’s so important to have a welcoming dedicated space because talking about sight loss can be very emotional.  

Sukhi said the ECLO service has helped her deal with Remi’s sight loss: “Talia takes the time to listen to you and she has all eyes on you. It’s about you and your child. She spoke to us in depth about different opportunities and things we can tap in to; always reassuring, she truly gets it.”   

Talia, who has an eye condition herself, said of the new room: “I love it. It’s so important to have a dedicated area where you can have those important conversations with families in privacy. It’s knowing you have that calming and welcoming environment and enough space where children can play while their parents are talking.”  

She added: “My time isn’t limited. I can sit and speak to someone for an hour or more if needs be. Consultants have tight deadlines and clinics to run. It's vital people can have that extra point of contact.”  

The new room is equipped with a colourful mural, comfortable furniture, a height-rising desk for wheelchairs, an activity table for children with scented felt-tips and play equipment.  

Sally Painter, Consultant Ophthalmologist, added: We are so lucky that Talia has joined our team. Before, we would have to break bad news about sight loss and send families home with only a leaflet and a telephone number. Now, we can ask Talia to meet with families as they leave our clinic room. She can bring them to this calm, welcoming, non-clinical space and give them the time and support that they need from the very beginning of their sight loss journey. Without the support of the hospital charity, this room and space would not have been possible.”