For this award we wanted to hear about how Visionary members and partners have transformed services to connect with Blind and Partially Sighted People in new and innovative ways. This may be through working with others to implement an initiative or service that has strengthened or created new on the ground local provision for blind and partially sighted people.
Blind Veterans UK
Blind Veterans UK has helped vision-impaired ex-service men and women rebuild their lives after sight loss. Over 90% of the veterans we serve are aged over 70. In August 2020 they launched a national ‘Health, Wellbeing & Rehabilitation (HWR) Project’ to meet their members rehabilitation needs through remote means to support their independence during the Covid pandemic. Blind Veterans believe they were the first National Visual Impairment Rehabilitation Service.
In an initial 8-month reporting period they supported members with 1737 interventions, across numerous areas such as of visual impairment rehabilitation, accessing technology, physical health, emotional well-being and meaningful creative activity. 99.6% of members self-reported an improvement or maintenance in their ability to manage their needs following a remote rehabilitation intervention. As a service Blind Veterans were able to:
- Deliver rehabilitation interventions in a timelier manner.
- Achieve good outcomes for members across all rehabilitation areas.
- Receive positive feedback from members on remote delivery.
Additional benefits reported by Members include:
- Positive impact on mental wellbeing
- Feeling inspired
- Sense of achievement or purpose
- Opportunity for self-expression
- Physical health benefits
- Fast access to service
- Value of conversation, connection and comradeship
- Contact from BVUK a source of joy
- Keeping busy and distracted
- Feeling cared for
The HWR Project would not have been possible without the dedication, creativity and resilience of staff at Blind Veterans. The project has provided exciting opportunities and wide-reaching successes. Learning from this initiative will continue to shape the future of Blind Veterans UK services in the future.
Devon in Sight and Moorvision
The number of children and young people with vision impairment are much lower than for adults, yet the impact can be life changing. A significant proportion have complex needs, and young people acquiring a vision impairment in teenage years face a host of emotional as well as practical challenges during education and as they enter the world of work.
While some local sight loss charities have staff dedicated to supporting children and young people, many do not, and staff may be less familiar with the issues and support available.
The Children and Young People’s Sight Loss MOT includes a Checklist to help staff provide a consistent model of support based on national best practice. It also includes a Resource Guide with in-depth information for parents and staff. Developed by Devon in Sight and Moorvision, and in consultation with local and national experts, it includes sections on the prevalence and causes of vision impairments in children, an explanation of the different professionals providing support, information on early years and educational support, and mental health.
The CYPF version is being launched at the 2021 Visionary Conference and will be provided as a free resource for Visionary Members. Early feedback has included “WOW – this is amazingly good – so thorough! Exactly what you would want as a parent” and “It is a very good, comprehensive document – very impressive.”
Forth Valley Sensory Centre
The Making Sense of Energy Saving Project delivered real benefits not only in terms of carbon saving, with 21,000 tonnes equivalent of CO2 taken out of the environment but also for people with sensory conditions.
Below is a case study that highlights the personal impact of the project:
Case Study Miss L: Miss L is 100 years old, with hearing and sight loss. She lives alone in a 2-bedroom, end terrace council house in a village within Falkirk area. She has an electric wet heating system and her fuel payment had just gone up to £360 per month when we met her.
Miss L was very distressed about this as she only received a widow’s pension and had debt of over £5,000 already with Scottish Power. We spoke to Scottish Power on her behalf and got them to freeze the account until we could find out why her energy usage was so high. After checking her last 3 fuel bills and recording a meter reading from that day I could see that she was using an extremely large amount of electricity. We got a heating engineer to fix her faulty thermostat and supported every visit as she did not want strangers in her home. We contacted the National Debt Line and Scottish Power’s Hardship Fund department about Miss L’s debt. She qualified for 100% of the debt to be written off. Afterwards a much her monthly payments reduced to £110!
The First Step CVI Project is a multi-partner project designed by Henshaws in collaboration with Manchester Royal Eye Hospital (MREH) to provide a single point of access service to patients in Greater Manchester (GM) diagnosed with sight loss. It is hoped that by centralising the management of the GM CVI database and creating robust pathways to support patients, they will receive more timely, tailored support based on their needs. This will in turn lead to those patients being better informed about their condition, understanding their options, and ultimately mean improvements in their emotional wellbeing, independence and confidence. The project will also aim to facilitate system improvements with better adherence to accessible information standards, a reduction in non-attendance to ophthalmology appointments, and better referral rates to local authority and other external services.
The service began delivery in September 2021 and is currently working with MREH only but, subject to further funding being secured, Henshaws are hoping to be able to roll out to other areas of GM in time. The project is supported by Greater Manchester Combined Authority who provided the initial pump prime funding to start delivering the service. Henshaws are also working in partnership with RNIB and Thomas Pocklington Trust.