NEW research indicates that there is a need for more visual awareness training to support people with sight loss living in care homes.

The research, released by sight loss charity Thomas Pocklington Trust today, shows staff, care home residents living with sight loss and their family members have a desire for more information and support to improve residents’ quality of life.

The Research Findings, Older people’s experiences of sight loss in care homes, presents the findings of an in depth qualitative study carried out in six residential care homes and one nursing home by Dr Lizzie Ward and Laura Banks from the University of Brighton, where staff, residents and their relatives were interviewed.

It is estimated that as many as half of the 400,000 older people who live in care homes have some form of sight loss (RNIB, 2014) but they require extra support when they live in a care home.

The research found that residents’ quality of life was positively affected by visual awareness training and training about the signs of sight loss, along with more information and support about aids and technology and access to volunteer services, such as befriending.  All of these services helped to reduce the impacts of sight loss and social isolation visually impaired residents’ experienced, and could be provided by the sight loss sector in partnership with care homes.

The research was co-produced with people with sight loss, through a Experts by Experience Panel of older people with sight loss and a Project Advisory Group which included people with visual impairment, as well as key stakeholders from the sight loss and care sectors and TPT staff. EEP members had insightful discussions of the data and reinforced the need to recognise a person’s whole life experiences and to see beyond their visual impairment.

Pamela Lacy, Research Manager at Thomas Pocklington Trust, commented: “Many local sight loss charities provide a range of services, such as visual awareness training and befriending, that can help to address the impacts of visual impairment. This research suggests that residents’ quality of life could be positively affected by care homes connecting with their local sight loss charity to access the services on offer.”

Dr Lizzie Ward, a senior research fellow at the University of Brighton, commented: “Co-producing research with people with visual impairment is important, as it generates an understanding of the experiences of visually impaired people, and could be conducted more in the sight loss sector. The outcome of co-production is research that has been shaped in partnership with the people whose needs it was intended to address and consequently findings that are relevant to their lives.”

The Research Findings can be found here as a PDF and here as a Word document.

The Full Report can be found here as a PDF and here as a Word document.

The Literature Review can be found here as a PDF and here as a Word document.