RNIB’s Social Care Campaigns Officer Tara Melton explains work being doing to ensure rehab services are available to those who need them.
RNIB has been busy over the past few months getting messages about the importance of rehab and care support for blind and partially sighted people across to MPs, ministers and civil servants.
Campaigners have been writing to, and meeting their MPs, to tell them about their experiences of care.
Rehabilitation, where it works is excellent, but a large number of blind and partially sighted people will still require help in the longer term to deal with many barriers to living independently and with dignity. But many are being left to go it alone.
Too many people who lose their sight are left isolated and alone without the offer of the necessary specialist help they need to re-learn key aspects of their lives.
The Care Bill has now received Royal Assent and there are lots of important and exciting elements within the Bill. For the first time Carers will have the right to an assessment for their own needs.
RNIB is particularly pleased that the Bill requires local authorities to maintain a register of visually impaired adults.
The Government is consulting on the regulations and guidance which underpin the bill, and RNIB’s work is not yet done.
The regulations and guidance are very important and is where the real difference can be made to the lives of many bind and partially sighted people. It is vital that people with care needs, have their needs recognised.
We know that currently many people are being failed, as the unique challenges faced by blind and partially sighted people are not identified when assessing care needs. We are concerned that proposed regulations and guidance will still fail many blind and partially sighted people and need to be improved.
RNIB has been calling for rehabilitation to be free and available irrespective of a person’s eligibility for long term care. We have received assurances from the Government that this will be the case, and we need to make sure that this is reflected in the final guidance.
A recent republished Association of Directors of Adult Services position statement states that: “Rehabilitation programmes should be time limited but not time prescribed. It is not expected that a rehabilitation programme will have no end point, but due to the nature of sight loss and personal circumstances of each individual, this may not be possible to achieve the outcomes that will truly minimise dependency, within a six week period.”
RNIB support this statement and believe that prevention guidance should reflect this.
MPs from across England have been visiting local rehabilitation services. Minister of State for Care and Support, Norman Lamb, visited the rehabilitation service in Norfolk so that he could meet with staff and a user of its services.
Jan, who has accessed rehab services told The minister that once she had been visited by the team she “felt help had at last arrived. This help would enable me to acquire the necessary skills to live again rather than the lonely restricted existence I had at this time.
“I didn’t know that the visit from the Sensory Support team was going to be such a God send for me and how much assistance and support I was going to acquire. This meant a matter of life, not solitude, unhappiness, anxiety, stress and depression.”
The messages are getting through to Government due to the fantastic work that campaigners have been doing. Now is the final opportunity for the public to have their say.
It is vital that the Government hears from you about the importance of care support for many blind and partially sighted people. For information on how to respond to the consultation call 020 7391 2123.
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