People with impaired vision may 'miss out' on vital support to which they are entitled, UK
New research from the University of York's Social Policy Research Unit (SPRU) provides evidence that securing specialist vision rehabilitation support gives people with sight loss confidence, makes them feel safer and helps maintain independence. However the research, commissioned by sight loss charity, Thomas Pocklington Trust, shows that some people are not receiving this essential support. In a national survey of English vision rehabilitation services, a quarter of services inappropriately required people to have a Fair Access to Care Services (FACS) assessment to determine if they were eligible, meaning that people have to develop a substantial care need before they get support. In addition, funding cuts put services under pressure, creating long waiting lists, staff reductions and fewer opportunities for staff training.
Dr Parvaneh Rabiee of SPRU, who led the research, says: "Our study shows that vision rehabilitation support can have a real impact on people's quality of life. Yet too often, vision rehabilitation services are not reaching those who need them. Local authorities need to acknowledge the vital role of specialist rehabilitation, make it available as early as possible, and not require people to have full social care assessments."
There are around two million people in the UK living with sight loss. Estimates suggest this number will more than double by 2050, as the proportion of older people in the population increases. Sight loss affects all aspects of a person's life. Under the Care Act 2014 local authorities are now required by law to actively promote wellbeing and independence. The Government urges them to invest in early intervention and specifies the importance of rehabilitation for people with visual impairment. Yet SPRU's report 'Vision Rehabilitation Services: what is the evidence?' reveals barriers that prevented people receiving adequate rehabilitation.