RNIB-led UK vision strategy urges social care improvements

A UK vision strategy launched today by the Royal National Institute for the Blind has urged social care professionals to do more to help people suffering from sight loss.

The strategy claimed more than 180,000 registered blind and partially sighted adults in the UK end up socially excluded because of lack of support from the social care system.

It was developed in conjunction with charities, local authorities and the NHS and has received the backing of health secretary Alan Johnson, though it has no statutory or regulatory basis.

Johnson said: “We recognise there is a growing demand for eye care services which will increase in coming years as people live longer. This presents a real challenge for the health and social care system.”

Choice and control

The strategy calls for blind and partially sighted people to be given community equipment, housing adaptations or a personal budget to give them greater choice and control. Anne Bristow, who was involved in drafting the strategy as the policy lead on sensory impairment for the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services, said that social care professionals also needed to better understand the emotional impact of sight loss.

She added: “A number of people with a learning disability have never had a sight test – is it surprising that if you can’t see the world that your behaviour may be more challenging?”

Bristow added: “Practice is not poor everywhere. We want to spread the good practice around.”

RNIB chief executive Lesley-Anne Alexander said: “The UK vision strategy clearly identifies a lack of joined-up health and social care services in many areas as part of the problem. It’s crucial that these shortfalls are addressed and that individuals are placed at the centre of our thinking.”

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