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

Service innovation

The section provides information about some of the innovative service design work we are involved in.

Early Intervention and Rehabilitation in Eye Care Services project

We have secured funding to develop a new, innovative approach to health and social care. The Early Intervention and Rehabilitation in Eye Care Services project will last approximately three years, and was developed in partnership with the chair of the Rehab Workers Network.

The initiative aims to use learning from the sector and blind and partially sighted people to develop a new, streamlined delivery model that includes early intervention support. It will also map rehabilitation services and undertake a cost benefits review on a rehabilitation service.

We hope it will equip local people with the information they need to make decisions and influence change in their local areas by adding new information to resources such as RNIB's sight loss data tool and the sightline directory.

For further information contact


The OPTiC (Older People Taking Control) project enables older people, especially those with or at risk of sight loss, to manage the changes they encounter in later life and reduce isolation.

Together, we identify and refer older people in Stafford and York to receive appropriate support through the range of services OPTiC provides, and support them to run various support schemes and groups.

For more information on these scheme, the numbers helped and the legacy of the project please download our information leaflet below, visit the blog or watch the film.


The aim of VISAL (Visually Impaired Seniors Active Learning) is to encourage and enable older people with sight loss to participate actively and have a voice in their local communities.

The VISAL toolkit

The VISAL toolkit was produced as part of the European VISAL project. It is designed to help you to help and encourage older blind and partially sighted people to participate actively in their local community.

It offers a step-by-step guide to planning, organising and following up the VISAL programme to help a group of older people with sight loss to gain in confidence, skills and awareness to the best of their individual abilities.

Additional exercises and evaluation resources, as well as dissemination and recruitment tools are available on the VISAL website.

VISAL film

Watch the short VISAL film to learn more about the project, the toolkit, and how you can start using it.

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.

External research

Thomas Pocklington Trust: Loneliness, social isolation and sight loss

This report, published in October explores the links between loneliness, social isolation and sight loss, with a view to indicating possible improvements to policy and practice and areas for further research.

Visit the Thomas Pocklington website to download the report.

Visual impairment is associated with physical and mental comorbidities in older adults: a cross-sectional study

Visual impairment is common in older people and the presence of additional health conditions can compromise health and rehabilitation outcomes. A small number of studies have suggested that comorbities are common in visual impairment. This report explores this topic and finds that 27 of the 29 physical health conditions and all eight mental health conditions were significantly more likely to be recorded for individuals with visual impairment compared to individuals without visual impairment. This has important implications for clinical practice and for the future design of integrated services.

Visit the BMC Medicine website to download the full report.

ADASS: Annual budget survey

The Annual budget survey from ADASS was released in July. Cuts of 26 per cent make social care services ‘unsustainable’– say the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services.

The clear message from the survey is that Adult social care services in England will soon be `unsustainable’ if current budgetary pressures continue, and significant measures are not taken to inject new money into local social care economies.

Visit the ADASS website to download the report.

The College of Optometrists: Focus on falls

The College of Optometrist recently released a report called Focus on falls.

This report aims to outline and promote the pivotal role that improving vision has in preventing falls. By producing a clear picture of vision testing within falls services, highlighting any variations in care and suggesting solutions to policy makers and the optometric profession, the College aims to support falls professionals in testing patients’ vision and to demonstrate the role optometrists can play in this.

Part of their activities around this will be working with Thomas Pocklington Trust to distribute the Eyes Right tool screening tool to falls services. This easy to use tool is designed to screen older people (those aged 65+) for poor vision.

Visit The College of Optometrists’ website to download the report and find out more about their activities.

Thomas Pocklington Trust: Physical activity among older people with sight loss

This report, published in June aims to increase the knowledge base relating to physical activity among older people who are living with sight loss by exploring individual experiences of, and identifying barriers and aids to, participating in physical activity.

The findings tell us about the benefits older people with visual impairment experience in being active and the challenges they face, and identify ways to increase participation.

Visit the Thomas Pocklington website to download the report.

Thomas Pocklington Trust: Good practice in the design of homes and living spaces for people with dementia and sight loss

These good practice housing design guidelines are based on findings from a study which assessed the research evidence around what works well for visually impaired people and those with dementia.

The evidence-based guidelines help make homes more accessible for people with both conditions and were developed after researchers gathered the views and experiences of people living with dementia and sight loss, their families and carers and a wide range of professionals.

Visit the Thomas Pocklington website to download the report.

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 Act regulations and guidance

Following a consultation, the Care Act regulations and guidance were published on 24 October by the Department of Health. On initial reading, there is much to be welcomed, particularly in relation to rehabilitation, eligibility, registers, provision of information and some aspects of charging. Our highlights are:

  • For the first time rehabilitation for blind and partially sighted are acknowledged in statutory guidance.
  • Rehabilitation services must be provided to people based on their needs and shouldn’t be limited to six weeks.
  • Everyone who has a need for rehabilitation support should receive it. Local authorities cannot restrict access to the service based on a person’s eligibility for care and support.
  • Local authorities must provide minor aids and adaptations up to the value of £1,000 free of charge, for the purpose of assisting with nursing at home or aiding daily living.
  • An assessment for care should start from the moment an adult has contact with the local authority. A decision as to whether a person qualifies for support cannot be made unless an assessment has been carried out.
  • The eligibility criteria mean that it should be possible for many blind and partially sighted people to qualify for care and support.

We hope this will result in more blind and partially sighted people being eligible for, and able to access, support.

To find out more, take a look at our short 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