Monday, 15 September 2014

Guest Blog from June Neil, Training and Development Manager RNIB

A big thank you to June Neil from the RNIB. for the guest blog 

RNIB logo
A very warm welcome to our latest blog contributor, June Neil from the RNIB. June and her team have worked to develop resources to be used for supporting people with dementia through sight loss, which are linked in below. They are currently looking at developing a guide for carers, and would like to find out if there is a demand for this. If this is something you feel you would benefit from, please do answer the 6 short questions below and send your responses to Sarah McDermott by Friday 10th October.
My name is June Neil and I work for the Royal National Institute of the Blind. For the last 3 years I have been involved with a Sight Loss and Dementia project centred on training Vision Champions.
Sight loss is often under diagnosed in people with dementia because the signs can be difficult to separate. One condition may mask or be mistaken for the effect of the other. Often the individual may not be able to tell you about changes to their vision either through an age related eye condition or the dementia itself and will experience “hidden sight loss”.
To address this, the Vision Champion Training programme was established in September 2012 and funded for 2 years by the Scottish Government to train Vision Champions within Glasgow, Edinburgh and the Lothian’s, the Borders, Ayrshire and Arran, and Fife.
We have now trained and provided mentoring support to 63 Vision Champion from a range of health and social care backgrounds to support individuals living with dementia to:
  • identify hidden sight loss
  • access local eye health care
  • examine if relevant vision support information is available within care and support systems
  • update and implement vision support information.
The outcomes from the project have been very positive, improved access to eye health care and changes to care plans and assessment processes have been made as a result of the training.
One service user shared how they had experienced a much more relaxed vision test and did not “have to worry about giving the right answers” culminating in the new diagnosis of mild cataracts. Both the service user and his wife shared how they “found the experience much less stressful and feel they have built a helpful relationship with the new optometrist and staff”.
We hope to have correlated all our evidence and produce a final report by November 2014
Although my project has focused on the Vision Champion training it has often taken me down different avenues of partnership working.
We have a long standing working relationship with Alzheimer Scotland and have jointly produced a Dementia and Sight Loss Leaflet which support individuals and their carers to access local opticians. To supplement this we are producing a DVD to support Opticians and their staff to adapt their practices to be more Dementia Friendly.
Working with Action on Hearing Loss we produced Top Tip cards on how to support an older person with Sensory Loss There are two specific Top Tip cards on Sensory Loss and Dementia.
I am  part of a Dementia and Sight loss Interest Group, a national body that supports the development of resources around Dementia and Sight Loss. As a group we have been involved with developing the Dementia and Sight loss Section on the Social Care Institute of Excellence (SCIE)
I have also been involved with Sandra Shafii a Dementia Consultant AHP in designing a practise note on Falls.
It was indirectly through the practice note I got in touch with Tommy.
A lady living with Dementia whose vision had been affected by her Dementia, had been experiencing an increase in falls, got in touch with me. She was keen to share her experience and wanted me to not only raise awareness of the impact of dementia on vision but to look at developing training and information for carers on how best to provide support.
This prompted me to get in touch with Tommy to ask for his help to gather information on whether sight loss and falls are an area that carers require information/support on.
Tommy shared his own experience when caring for his mum. She found it difficult to judge stepping out of the bath on to the laminate flooring. To over come this, a simple solution was to put a coloured mat on the floor. This provided a good colour contrast and reduced the glare on the laminate helping his mum see where she was to step on to.
Often it is simple solutions that make the task easier both parties.
To help us establish if there is a need for Carers training and resources it would be appreciated if you could complete and returning the following 6 questions to Sarah McDermott Policy and Information Assistant at Dementia Carer Voices.
Please answer yes or no and feel free to add your own comment under each question
  1. Do you know Dementia can affect your vision?
Any other comments
  1. Do you or a person you care for have difficulty judging the height of steps and kerbs for example taking exaggerated steps?
Any other comments
  1. Do you or a person you care for experience difficulty locating poorly colour contrasting items for example potatoes on a white plate?
Any other comments
  1. Do you or a person you care for experience difficulty going out walking in dark nights or poorly lit areas?
Any other comments
  1. Have you or a person you care for experienced a fall in the last 12 months
Please state number of falls
  1. Are you or a person you care for fearful of falling
Any other comments
If what you tell us shows that individuals with dementia and their carers need support in this area we will use this information to seek funding to develop training and resources. Many thanks for your help
June Neil
My pledge is: To continue to raise awareness of the impact of sight loss and dementia and to work in partnership to develop suitable resources to improve quality of access to eye health care and sharing of vision support  for those living with dementia.
Below find the link to older people and complex needs services
Here you will find
Dementia and Sight Loss Leaflet
Top Tip Cards on how to support Older Person with Sensory Loss
RNIB Helpline
0303 123 9999
Thanks for reading my blog, You can now view my 8 short flims here!
DCV photo DementiaCarerRGBlandscape3_zpsa2f3d5ff.jpg

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