February 2010

Gillian Ward, Darren Awang, Carol Campion, Paula Dring and Carol Bryce, Coventry University

Sight loss should be given greater emphasis in occupational therapy education and training, according to recommendations from a study by Coventry University. The report found that a third of UK occupational therapists feel inadequately prepared to help the vision impaired and 95 per cent of Higher Education providers said sight loss was “only partly addressed.”

Key Facts:

  • One third of qualified occupational therapists surveyed felt their education had not provided them with sufficient knowledge on sight loss.
  • On leaving education, only 2 per cent felt confident assessing and advising people with visual impairment and nearly 60 per cent described themselves as not confident or barely confident.
  • Sight loss was viewed as a secondary diagnosis and one quarter did not include sight loss routinely within their assessments.
  • Almost all of the responding Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) (95 per cent) providing occupational therapy undergraduate education said sight loss was only partly addressed in their curriculum, with nearly two-thirds (63 per cent) stating it had a low priority.
  • 47 per cent felt sight loss deserved more emphasis due to the increasing numbers of older people and reflections made as part of participating in this research.
  • None of the participants felt their graduates were well prepared to work with people who have sight loss.

How can this research help?

The study suggests that much could be done to support the professional development needs of occupational therapists. Developing a curriculum that is more tailored to approaching the problem of sight loss will ensure future occupational therapists can provide better services for people with sight loss.

Links: 

Research Findings: Improving Outcomes for People with Sight Loss: Identifying the Continuing Professional Development Needs of Occupational Therapists – PDF version and Word version