Working with older people

If you work with older people, this section offers information about the latest research, news, policy, products and resources in relation to older people with sight loss.

About working with older people

Our population is ageing. Although it can affect anyone at any time, losing our sight becomes increasingly likely as we get older. Almost two million people in the UK are living with sight loss. This includes

  • 1 in 5 over 75 years old
  • 1 in 2 over 90 years old.

News for professionals working with older people

For the latest news and information for professionals working with older people please email to subscribe to our older people enewsletter.

Older people: Resources for professionals

Whether your profession is in health or social care, supported housing, or the voluntary sector, if you work with older people it is likely that a high percentage of them will have some form of sight loss. The resources in this section can help you to help your clients.

Overview of resources

Below are some of the resources listed in the overview document.


Care and supported housing

Dementia and sight loss

Supporting older people in the community

Research and policy

Vital statistics and information

For key information and statistics please read our Older people Evidence-based review and our Facts and figures documents below.

RNIB research

Older people evidence based review

We have produced an Evidence-based review for older people. The review looks at the experiences of older blind and partially sighted people and includes a profile of the group, the policies that govern and impact upon their lives, and a commentary on what the latest evidence tells us.

You can download a copy of the review from our evidence-based reviews page. The review completes our suite of Evidence-based reviews on different age groups, the others in the series being "Children and young people" and "People of working age".

Sight loss data tool version 2

Our Sight loss data tool gives factual information about sight loss for each region and local authority in the UK. Version 2 now includes:

  • local data for all upper-tier local authorities, including Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland
  • a huge number of new indicators including information on general population demographics, NHS sight tests, cost of sight loss, blind and partially sighted children and young people and other health conditions
  • custom reports that help users easily access the data they need
  • separate guidance notes which explain the sources of each indicator, how it was defined and calculated
  • a new user guide explaining the different functions of the data tool and helping users make the most of the resource.

By providing robust evidence on sight loss and those at risk of sight loss at a local level, the data tool can support a range of activities such as:

  • local authority planning (such as Joint Strategy Needs Assessments)
  • fundraising
  • influencing
  • marketing and communications
  • service and strategic planning

Start using the Sight loss data tool.

Early intervention support in eye clinics

We have carried out an overview of emotional and practical support in UK eye clinics.

The research contained in the report supports our new "Hanging from a thread" campaign which is about protecting existing Eye Clinic Liaison Officer posts at risk of ending in 2014. The campaign also calls for sustainable funding for this vital service.

Visit our Knowledge hub to download the report.

External research

Thomas Pocklington: Vision care for stroke survivors

This research explores the provision of vision care for stroke survivors with visual impairment. The findings identify the types of visual conditions that occur following stroke, the impact this can have on stroke survivors and recommendations for provision of eye care following stroke.

Visit the Thomas Pocklington website to download the report.

QualityWatch: Social care for older people

Budget allocations from central Government to English local authorities were reduced by 14 per cent in real terms between 2011/12 and 2014/15. This report asks how local authorities have responded to this decline in income and explores the possible impact on older adults’ health and wellbeing.

Visit the QualityWatch website to download the report.

Policy and campaigns

A key role for the voluntary sector is to work with key decision makers at government, national and local levels to ensure effective services are provided for blind and partially sighted older people.

RNIB works in partnership with key organisations to influence policy and procedures which inform service delivery for blind and partially sighted older people, and their families. Here is some of our work that may be of interest to your profession:

Care Bill

Many people losing sight need specialist help from a Rehabilitation Officer to rebuild confidence and maintain control and independence. But professional help is dropping and inadequate social care services fail blind and partially sighted people. This leaves people isolated, unable to read post, get out and about, shop for basic items, clean and maintain homes and gardens, avoid falls and stay independent.

RNIB's research "Facing Blindness Alone" has revealed that in 2012/13; twenty-five thousand fewer blind and partially sighted adults received social care compared with just eight years ago. This represents a staggering drop of 43 per cent since 2005/06 and demonstrates larger decline in services for blind and partially sighted people than any other group.

The Government has an opportunity to put things right in the Care Bill. RNIB are calling on the Government Minister to ensure:

  • timely rehabilitation is provided
  • that blind and partially sighted people's needs are understood when assessing eligibility for care
  • that a register of children with visual impairment is kept by the local authority
  • that charges for services or equipment do not deter blind or partially sighted people from accessing support.

The Care Bill has now finished in the House of Lords and has returned to the House of Commons to be debated. The Bill is likely to receive royal assent in April 2014.

There will be opportunity to influence the secondary legislation which underpins the Bill, particularly around eligibility criteria to long term care. RNIB will be making as strong case for blind and partially sighted needs being identified. Find out more about our Social care campaign.

Events and networks

We offer a range of professional development opportunities to encourage good practice when working with older people who are blind and partially sighted, including those with complex needs.

RNIB also supports the work of specialist professional networks operating within the sight loss field. The following document gives information about these networks and any events that may support your professional development.

Products for older people

With support and the right products, many older people with sight problems and other disabilities like hearing loss, dementia and limited mobility can remain independent.

RNIB has over 1,300 specially selected products available from our online shop, many with large print instructions that have been clearly and concisely written.

Social care professionals latest news

Read more of our latest news for social care professionals

Social care professionals latest news