A Tettenhall-based optical practice has rebranded in order to promote its focus on the professional optometry services provided and to give it a personal touch.

The newly named Samantha Hague Optometry was founded in the Wolverhampton village in 1985 as S&M Sheward Dispensing Opticians.

When Samantha Hague bought the practice from the retiring owner, who was a dispensing optician, she decided to run the practice as Sheward Opticians for continuity and out of respect to the previous owners.

‘The decision to rebrand seemed an obvious next step following my significant investment across all aspects of the practice, which actually changed the place beyond recognition. The new name promotes both optometry and me as a practitioner and gives us both a personal and professional feel,’ Hague told Optician.

Refurbishment of the ‘old-fashioned’ practice started in August, 2019 with orange walls and a green leatherette reception area removed.

Hague said: ‘We completely stripped the shop back to a shell and made a light, airy space with a beautiful, boutique feel.’

Over 2,500 patient records were scanned onto a new practice management system, which made the independent paperless, while shopfitters carried out work.

A new consulting room was fitted with the latest equipment, which included a Nidek digital test chart and optical coherence tomographer, Keeler digital slip lamp and iCare tonometer.

‘We have just taken delivery of our new Optos Daytona NG so we can now give a truly comprehensive and thorough eye examination. The addition of remote edging technology in the recent past has greatly improved our service time and had helped to bring the dispensing side of the business up to the same standard as our optometric services,’ Hague explained.

Hague said investment in technology has improved the patient experience as well as the creation of a ‘calming, yet professional environment.’

‘The layout enables our small footprint to feel light and airy and our frame displays convey the wide range we stock, including our luxury brands, really well with careful lighting and decoration giving a luxuriant feel to the place,’ she said.

Hague added that her small, hand-picked team provided a focus on optometry and the delivery of clinical excellence, as well as impeccable service.

In response to Covid-19, retractable barriers were installed to partition the practice into zones; ‘one for dispensing and one for collections,’ with patient seen by appointment in order to restrict the number of people in the practice at any one time.

A Perspex screen was used at reception and the dispensing process was aided by the Eye-Ruler 2, with tried-on frames put through an ultraviolet sanitiser.

‘We are all used to wearing full personal protective equipment now, with a donning and doffing area at the rear of the practice and hand sanitiser, Covid-questionnaires and temperature checking all part of the daily routine,’ Hague said.

An intercom entry system supported the practice’s locked door policy and the management of patients who visit without an appointment.

Hague added: ‘We are awaiting our lateral flow tests for added reassurance and eventually our vaccines so that we can continue to provide our invaluable service as safely as we can.’