RTE has revealed that a pharmacy in Belfast’s West Belfast has opened for the first time for the blind and the visually impaired in the Republic of Ireland.
The RTE report on the ‘bridging-the-gap’ campaign, launched last year, revealed that the Belfast-based pharmacy, Fry’s Pharmacy, has been able to offer medication and services for people who are unable to use their own pharmacy.
The company, which opened in the area in February 2018, is offering a range of services including sight and hearing aids, medical advice, and even an appointment with a pharmacist.
The first patient was a blind man who needed an operation to repair his hearing loss after his vision was damaged in a car accident.
“The idea is that if a person needs a medication, it’s not just going to be a prescription, it’ll be a ‘need to see’ for the person,” Fry’s director of development and pharmacy, Richard Bowery, told RTE.
“We’re really happy to help these people access that service, because the benefit is really big.
It’s not a prescription for them to get what they need.
It’s going to enable them to make a much more informed choice about what they want to buy.
I think it’s an excellent example of what can be done in the context of a national strategy.”
Dr Bowerwood added that the organisation was also looking at the option of opening a ‘blind and visually impaired clinic’ in Belfast.
“I think the idea of having a clinic for people that need to be able to access services, especially if they’re blind or visually impaired, is really quite radical,” he said.
“It would allow us to be proactive about this.”
Dr Jonathan Lewis, the CEO of the Belfast Eye and Ear Clinic, added that it would be a “huge success” for the city.
“There are so many blind and visually disabled people that we have seen here, and I think the opportunity to be working with the blind community in Belfast is really exciting,” he told the RTE show.
“For a number of reasons, I think there’s an opportunity here.
The people that come here for the sight and the hearing are often very shy and have a lot of concerns about where they fit in society.
This is a way of helping them be confident in their own abilities and in their ability to access the services they need.”