October 2010

Professor Mima Cattan, Northumbria University

Care home staff are neglecting the emotional needs of frail older people with sight loss in favour of supporting them with health issues and everyday chores, according to research published by Thomas Pocklington Trust. The study called for further emphasis on emotional support in sheltered housing schemes and care homes, after it was revealed staff often lacked the training to fulfill needs specific to the more frail residents.

Key Facts:

  • Frail older people frequently lack information, help and support after diagnosis of eye problems.
  • Provision of information and devices to support independence lacked a systematic approach and often did not address the needs and preferences of the individual.
  • Visually impaired older people showed a strong desire to maintain a certain degree of independence. This was manifested both in their wish to try to do as much self care as they could, and to keep engaged in the activities they valued and enjoyed.
  • Family members and friends are often seen as the most important sources of support and practical help to engage in social activities, whereas care staff are mainly seen as a source of help for everyday chores or health problems.
  • Assessment and monitoring systems need to be sensitive to the needs, interests and activities of individual older people with sight loss before moving into supported accommodation.

How can this research help?

The research identified several key areas for further research and calls for the implementation of new training programmes to raise awareness of emotional needs specific to frail older people.

Links: 

Research Findings: The Needs of Frail Older People with Sight Loss – PDF version and Word version