April 2011

Ros Levenson

Reaching out to people with sight loss is a key challenge for telephone support services, but a recent study from Thomas Pocklington Trust has found schemes are “invaluable” when delivered effectively. Telebefriending is the process of connecting isolated people to trained callers who provide friendship, support and advice. The paper revealed that while telephone support services reduce isolation and improve overall wellbeing for people with sight loss, the service needs to be promoted in order to reach more people.

Key facts: Telebefriending

  • Telebefriending was developed in response to needs for social support and interaction among people who are isolated.
  • Many organisations use the service and it is not limited to helping those involved with visual impairment.
  • Telephone support schemes increase overall wellbeing among people with sight loss through reducing isolation, providing a structure to their days, and encouraging them to make use of other sight loss support services.

How can this research help?

Understanding the limits of telebefriending allows the service to be developed and improved. This research indicates that telephone support schemes do not reach individuals who don’t make use of other sight loss support services, and suggests promotion through local GPs, eye clinics and hospitals might be a way of addressing the lack of awareness.

Links: 

Research Discussion Paper: Telebefriending and Telephone Support Services for People with Sight Loss – PDF version and Word version