Welcome to LOVRNET!
Welcome to LOVRNET!
The Lions Low Vision Rehabilitation Network (Lions LOVRNET) is a model for a new community based healthcare program that will address the current shortage and distribution of low vision rehabilitation services and can expand to keep pace with the growth in demand as our population ages. The Lions of Multiple District 22, in partnership with low vision rehabilitation experts at the Lions Vision Research and Rehabilitation Center of the Johns Hopkins Wilmer Eye Institute (Lions Vision Center), developed and implemented LOVRNET as a demonstration project in Maryland, Delaware, and the District of Columbia (Multiple District 22). It overcomes the barriers of meeting the rapidly growing demand for low vision rehabilitation services that must be provided by eye doctors and therapists in the community as the number of people with low vision rapidly increases with the aging of the population.
WHAT IS LOW VISION?
• Low vision is a term used to describe permanent visual impairments in both eyes that interfere with the person’s ability to perform daily activities that are important to them.
• Most low vision is caused by incurable age-related eye diseases such as age-related macular degeneration, glaucoma, and diabetic retinopathy.
• Eighty percent of people with low vision are over age 65 and the average age of the low vision population is 77 years old.
• More than 90% of low vision patients have at least one other major health problem.
• More than a third of low vision patients (39%) live alone, 81% depend on family and friends for transportation and most depend on family (77%) and/or friends (38%) for other types of assistance. Only 5% of patients report they receive assistance from their church and only 2% report receiving assistance from community service organizations like Lions Clubs.
• The patient’s physical and mental health status add to and interact with the patient’s visual impairments to cause cumulative functional limitations and disabilities.
• Only about 15% of those needing low vision services in Multiple District 22 are currently receiving care for their condition.
• Health professionals and the general public know little about the availability, quality or effectiveness of low vision rehabilitation and community services for the visually impaired.
• Low vision rehabilitation is highly effective in restoring the ability of visually impaired and blind people to function in everyday life.
ROLE OF LIONS
Lions provide low vision rehabilitation services to assist the blind and visually impaired individuals; initiate and facilitate peer support groups; and educate the public on stereotypes associated with blindness and visual impairments.
LOVRNET is a service project for Lions. Some aspects of LOVRNET services, such as community outreach programs, require buy-in and coordination at the club level. However, most of the LOVRNET service activities are not Club-centered, rather, individual Lions can volunteer to conduct patient interviews, provide direct services to patients, or perform administrative tasks on their own schedule and to whatever level of involvement they feel comfortable making a commitment. Patient interviews can be performed from the volunteer’s home, or any location that has a telephone and internet connection. Direct services to patients require face-to-face interactions with low vision patients on a mutually agreeable schedule. Most administrative tasks can be performed on the internet by telephone from any location. Four Task Forces have been created to manage each of the Lion Volunteer activities that are at the core of LOVRNET.
The Task Force on Community Outreach is responsible for developing and coordinating local Lions Club-led public education and eye health screening programs that include the active participation of the 400 plus community ophthalmologists in Multiple District 22. These programs are implemented through Lions Eye Health Program (LEHP) and the MD 22 Lions Low Vision Education Program (LLVEP). The aims of LOVRNET Community Outreach Program are to inform the public about LOVRNET services, to support local eye health services, and promote low vision patient referrals to LOVRNET. The primary focus of the Community Outreach Program is the education of local ophthalmologists about the benefits to their patients of low vision rehabilitation, supporting the health services that the local ophthalmologists provide to the community, and encouraging local ophthalmologists to refer their patients with low vision to LOVRNET for low vision rehabilitation services.
The Task Force on Patient Interviews is responsible for recruiting, training, and supervising Lion volunteers who conduct computer-assisted telephone interviews of LOVRNET patients before their visit to the low vision clinician and again after the patient has been discharged from low vision rehabilitation care. This Task Force also is responsible for quality assurance of the patient interviews and assuring compliance with patient protected health information requirements under the Health Insurance Portabilty and Accountability Act (HIPAA).
The Task Force on Direct Services to Patients is responsible for developing and coordinating local programs in which Lion volunteers provide direct services to LOVRNET patients. These services include providing transportation to the doctor’s office or a clinic for patients who need it; trouble shooting and when appropriate solving patient problems with their use of vision assistive equipment in the home; helping make safety and adaptive modifications to the patient’s home environment as recommended by the low vision therapist; helping patients gain access to services available to the blind and visually impaired; organizing and leading local low vision patient informational and support groups; and helping patients identify sources of financial assistance to help pay for needed vision assistive equipment.
The Task Force on Lions LOVRNET Administration is responsible for developing and overseeing the use of the LOVRNET e-commerce system by local doctors; and managing vision assistive equipment prescription kit loan agreements with LOVRNET clinicians. This Task Force is also charged with recruiting, training, and supervising Lion volunteers who will enroll patients in LOVRNET, helping patients schedule appointments with low vision clinicians, and scheduling patient interviews and direct patient services with certified volunteers.
PROFESSIONAL LOW VISION REHABILITATION SERVICES
The doctors evaluate and assess the patient’s vision impairments and functional limitations; prescribe vision enhancement and assistive technology; provide patient education and counseling; and order low vision therapy.
LOW VISION THERAPIST
The therapist evaluates the patient’s physical limitations, environment and resources; develops a rehabilitation plan of care individualized to the patient’s needs; teaches patient visual skills and adaption strategies to reduce dependence of vision; recommends modifications of the patient’s environment to enhance vision, implements adaptations and increase safety; provides education and counseling to prevent depression and improve quality of life; and recommends community and other health services that would benefit the patient.
PAYMENT FOR LOW VISION SERVICES
Low vision evaluations, patient management and patient education and counseling services provided by optometrists and ophthalmologists are covered by Medicare Part B, Medicaid, and most health insurance plans. Low vision rehabilitation services provided by occupational therapists under the orders of an optometrist or an ophthalmologist also are covered by Medicare/Medicaid and private insurance. Refractions and costs of ordinary spectacles are not covered by Medicare and are charged to the patient or Medicaid or to private charities. Low vision rehabilitation services provided by low vision therapists and orientation and mobility instructors and low vision devices are sometimes paid for by state departments of rehabilitation services, private charities, but in most cases, are out-of-pocket expenses for the patient. When eyeglasses, medical treatments and surgery cannot improve the patient’s vision, LOVRNET can help them regain their independence and improve their quality of life by maximizing the vision they do have. Lions LOVRNET aims to help the low vision patient with reading, watching television, walking safely and so much more.
For more information about volunteering for LOVRNET contact us at 410-737-2671.