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“Refreshing and enlightening” – LOC Needs Analysis exercise delivers valuable insights for LOCs

30 September 2019

LOCs nationwide have been undertaking an important exercise to identify the support they need from LOCSU and to help with the building of their LOC development plan. Initiated by LOCSU and supported by the Optical Lead team, the Needs Analysis exercise has proved illuminating and valuable for LOCs that have completed it to date.

We caught up with Stephanie Cairns, recently appointed Chair of Northumberland, Tyne and Wear  LOC, and Debbie Daplyn, Chair of Norfolk and Waveney LOC to find out how their LOCs had gone about conducting the Needs Analysis and what results they’ve seen so far.

Debbie Daplyn quote


Stephanie asked Northumberland, Tyne and Wear committee members with varying levels of experience to complete the exercise independently over the summer, before compiling the results for discussion. She found it a timely activity as she settled into her role as Chair, saying: “It helped me to prioritise and also to think about what newer members of the committee needed to help them get up to speed.”

The Norfolk and Waveney LOC took a more plenary approach, undertaking the analysis across two committee meetings in July and September, as Debbie explains: “At the first meeting we went through the needs analysis toolkit, with guidance and prompting from our Optical Lead Zoe Richmond, who joined the session. During the second session we discussed ideas and suggestions that arose from the first.”

What works well…

For Stephanie, it was useful to recognise that their LOC is representative of the sector: “We have a wide range of community optics represented including multiples, independents, IP, low vision, locums and dispensing opticians and we all have clear roles in our work for the LOC. We have also invested in leadership training – a number have completed the LOCSU leadership course, plus we consider succession planning as an ongoing process.”

The experienced committee at Norfolk and Waveney has a number of longstanding members, and Debbie has been Chair for six years and served on the committee since 2001. For them, the exercise initially acted as a confidence booster: “We were surprised and pleased with the number of performance areas that we could rate ourselves strongly in, such as CET and communications,” says Debbie. It proved to be an enjoyable activity, too, as Debbie continues: “It was a very good exercise to carry out to refresh our approach. It really got committee members old and new thinking and discussing how we could do more and different activities. As a LOC we have been heavily focused on community enhanced services for the past eight years, this made us pause, step back and assess whether this was still the right path.”

Development areas…

In terms of areas for development, Stephanie and the Northumberland Tyne and Wear committee realised that they need to have higher visibility among the optical sector in the region. She notes: “We’ve been very good at passing out information to contractors and via personal emails, but we need to reach the wider membership and get feedback so we know they are acting on the information we send.” The need to raise the profile of the LOC and its work was also underlined by a lack of awareness identified even within the committee itself: “We were surprised that our new committee members were unclear about the role of the LOC and how much work has gone into engaging with CCGs and the wider NHS.”

The exercise has provided the Northumberland, Tyne and Wear LOC with a clear view of the support it needs: “I’m hoping that LOCSU will develop some standardised communication tools that LOCs can use to help get our profile out quicker,” says Stephanie. “We need to keep raising our profile so the ICS, CCGs, PCNs and local Ophthalmology departments start engaging with us better.”

At Norfolk and Waveney LOC, the needs analysis revealed one particular issue: “We realised that although we are very well engaged with a high proportion of practices, there are some that we simply never see at all.” Says Debbie “We want to find out how we can engage that group and bring them into the fold, to make the optical community stronger.” The committee is devising a survey for all practices which will find out what they want from the LOC and how they prefer to communicate. If the missing group remains elusive, Debbie is prepared to track them down by phone to start building the connection.

To LOCs who are yet to undertake the needs analysis exercise, Stephanie advises: “Just get on and do it. It will help you focus on your direction of travel.” Debbie suggests: “Set aside an entire committee meeting to go through the LOCSU kit and discuss it – you’ll be surprised at what an enjoyable and enlightening process it is and, especially if you are a long-established group, it’s a great way to refresh things and spark new ideas.”

If you have yet to carry out the needs analysis exercise, get in touch with your Optical Lead who will be happy to facilitate a workshop session to get your whole committee involved in the conversation.



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