Support Services for People with Sight Loss

Little has changed to the support services offered to people with long-term sight loss, despite a failure to keep up with their changing needs reported three years ago, a charity has reported.

The issue has been revisited by the Thomas Pocklington Trust, with problems to services highlighted including a lack of follow-up, an absence of emotional support and ongoing difficulties in accessing social services.
 
Research director at the charity, Sarah Buchanan (pictured), said: “We hoped that on returning to this issue we would find some improvement. Instead, we found that the situation of people who were already struggling three years earlier had only got worse. Their quality of life had deteriorated but they were still not getting enough support.”
 
The ‘As life goes on: A closer look at how support services respond to the changing needs of people with sight loss’ report, found that the expectation that people will contact services if they require help is not working.
 
Researchers at the University of Liverpool re-interviewed 21 of the 37 original participants and reported that the accounts gathered confirmed that the needs of those with sight loss ‘increase and intensify over time’, whether their sight deteriorates or not.
 
For those interviewed who were coping well, they drew on informal support networks, whilst the quality of life of those who were not coping had diminished ‘drastically’.
 
However, the role of eye care liaison officers (ECLOs) supporting people who were newly diagnosed with sight loss was identified as a major improvement to services.
 
In order for improvements to occur, the study recommended: making it easier for people to re-access services beyond initial diagnosis with no less than annual follow-ups for reassessment; making referrals between services smoother; establishing community-based facilities to direct people to services; protecting and promoting support groups with a crucial role in helping people adapt and cope, and raising awareness among GP.
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