Visual impairments

If the person you care for has a sight impairment they may find it difficult to carry out day-to-day tasks and get out and about.

There are two categories of visual impairment:

  • moderate - where people have some vision
  • severe - where sight loss means that the person cannot carry out activities that require eyesight.

NHS Choices has further information about the causes and treatments for visual impairments.

Coping with sight impairments

Some people are born with sight impairments while others acquire them with age. If the person you care for used to be able to see they may find it very difficult to come to terms with losing their vision and consequently their independence.

This is likely to affect their mood and behaviour – which could cause your relationship with them to be affected. The dealing with changing relationships page has tips for dealing with relationship changes, links to further information and contacts of organisations who may be able to support you. The Royal National Institute for the Blind (RNIB) also have advice on coming to terms with sight loss.

Getting support and advice

Sight Support Derbyshire provide support and services to blind and partially sighted people to help them to become independent. They offer services including information and advice, help with claiming benefits, befriending, home support, rehabilitation, and sport and leisure activities for partially sighted people are their carers.  Sport and leisure opportunities include bowling, swimming and day trips.  

Sight Support are holding a series of information days throughout the county where you can get further information about topics such as guide dogs, assistive technology, macular degeneration and much more.

Contact Sight Support on:

The RNIB also have a national helpline that is available Monday to Friday, 8.45 am to 5.30pm on tel: 0303 123 9999. Their advisors can help with all sorts of issues around sight impairments.

NHS Choices has practical advice and details of other national charities that can offer support including the Royal Institute for the Blind and the Macular Society. 

North Derbyshire Voluntary Action have a directory of local community groups aimed at people with visual impairments and their carers.

Practical help for the person you care for

As a carer of someone with sight impairments one of your biggest challenges maybe helping the person you care for to maintain their independence. One thing you may need to do a lot is guide someone while you are out. 

Sight Support have top tips for guiding someone with a visual impairment. As a carer you may do these things already but it may be useful to share the tips with wider family or friends who take the person you care for out. 

  • don't move furniture without telling the person
  • ask the person where they want to go and how they wish to be guided
  • ensure you are one step ahead of the person you are guiding
  • give instructions where necessary but don’t overdo it
  • be aware of hazards at ground level and at head height
  • when guiding, give information about the people who are present 
  • describe in details the environment as you move around
  • explain your actions
  • when approaching seating, tell the person where the seat is and guide their hand to the back and seat of the chair, so that they can sit down independently
  • remember to allow extra space around obstacles

The RNIB have further information and tips on how to guide a person with a sight impairment.

You may be able to use technology and apps to assist the person you look after. For instance, a GPS tracker device may make it safer for the person to go out and about independently as you would be able to check their whereabouts if you needed to.  The RNIB have a range of products that can help to support people with visual impairments. 

Communication

Communication is key. All providers of health and social care must adhere to the Accessible Information Standard. This means that if someone requires information in an alternate format due to a health need or disability then they must be provided with information in that format. It could be large print, audio or braille. Providers should record communication needs on the person's medical/social care records for future reference. 

Derbyshire Libraries offer a range of services and information for people with sensory disabilities including converting documents in the Braille, audio and large print for a reasonable price. Email asklibrary@derbyshire.gov.uk, tel: 01629 533 444  or call in to your local library

Support as a carer

It is important that you take advantage of the support on offer to you as an unpaid carer.

The where to start section has details of how to get a carers assessment, carers breaks and planning for an emergency.

You may also wish to get support from other carers using online communities and forums.

The Carers Directory has information about carer support groups, activities and other services,  to support you in your caring role.

Other helpful websites

This information was last updated on 05/04/2017

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