English local authorities can hit national performance targets by improving services for visually impaired adults, according to a guide published by the Royal National Institute of Blind People.
‘Good practice in sight‘, which has been endorsed by the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services and care services minister Ivan Lewis, links improvements for people with sight loss to performance against targets including the 198 national indicators on which all authorities are judged.
The guide sets benchmarks for nine areas of service – emotional support, referral, information and advice, assessment, equipment, training, user involvement, complaints and inter-agency working.
For instance, the emotional support benchmark calls for service users to adjust positively to sight loss and for levels of depression among blind and partially-sighted people to be “reduced significantly”. The guide says success against this benchmark will contribute to national indicators on improving people’s self-reported level of health and well-being and supporting people with long-term conditions to be independent.
Updates 2002 guide
The guide updates the 2002 Association of Directors of Social Services guidance Progress in sight, which it says no longer reflects the current performance framework.
It is also designed to help meet two of the three objectives in the RNIB-led UK vision strategy, published in April – eliminating avoidable sight loss and delivering excellent support for people with sight loss; and promoting inclusion, participation and independence for people with sight loss.
The RNIB said that “good services that meet the needs of blind and partially sighted adults” can be delivered within tight budgets and current eligibility criteria.
The charity said that many more visually impaired people should be meeting critical and substantial eligibility thresholds, which apply in almost three-quarters of councils, under the Department of Health’s fair access to care services guidelines. However, it added that needs arising from sensory loss often went unnoticed or underestimated by practitioners.
The RNIB said the guide would also help councils deliver on the Department of Health’s agenda to personalise social care over the next three years through the roll-out of personal budgets and expansion of direct payments and self-assessment.
Two million people in the UK are living with sight loss and by the age of 60, one person in 12 can expect to have some degree of sight loss, according to RNIB figures. Despite the high and rising number of eligible people, new registrations with local authorities have dropped significantly and under-registration overall may be as high as 20%.