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.

Key statistics and information

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

News for professionals working with older people

For the latest news and information for professionals working with older people please email esiolderpeople@rnib.org.uk to subscribe to our older people enewsletter.

Communication

This section contains resources that will help you produce accessible materials for blind and partially sighted people.

RNIB WebDocs

RNIB WebDocs service has been designed to help you turn short Microsoft Word documents like letters, leaflets and lists of services into:

  • braille
  • large print
  • audio CD.

This means you can provide information to your customers in the format they need using this quick and cost effective service. Information you can send out includes:

  • opening times
  • appointment letters
  • letters to your customers
  • basic information leaflets
  • menus
  • terms and conditions

WebDocs is part of our Transcription services which, in addition to the kinds of text-only documents outlined above, can also produce longer, complex documents, brochures, tactile diagrams and accessible sheet music.

For more information on our WebDoc and Transcription services, visit the Services section of RNIB Business.

Making your website accessible

We can audit an existing website to help you identify work which needs to be done to improve its accessibility. Alternatively we can carry out a development audit as you design and build a new website or redesign a website, to help you keep it on track to meet your accessibility target level.

All audits are carried out with all users in mind. This includes people with sight problems, hearing, mobility and cognitive impairments, as well as those using older browsers and slow, dial-up connections, or newer technologies such as mobile phones.

We offer a diverse range of audits to help meet your requirements.

For further information visit the Audits section of RNIB Business.

If you are unsure which audit best suits your needs or there is something you want that isn't listed here then email us at businesslink@rnib.org.uk or call us on 01733 375 370.

Audio description

Blind and partially sighted people may have difficulty following the plot or story line of a TV programme. If so they may find that audio description can assist them. Like a narrator telling a story, an additional commentary describes body language, expressions and movements, making the story clear through sound.

Further information

For more information on accessibility, including information on our Access Consultancy Services, product brochures and courses in visual, disability and access awareness visit the Services section of RNIB Business.

Environment

This section contains resources to help you ensure that the environment is safe and suitable for blind and partially sighted people.

Bigger, bolder, brighter

Our Home and leisure section covers a range of ways you can make the environment suitable for blind and partially sighted people, including practical adaptations and labelling.

We have also produced, in conjunction with Thomas Pocklington Trust, a guide to help you make the most of light throughout the environment. You can download your copy now, by visiting our lighting pages.

Colour

Visit our Colour section to learn about colour accessibility and the importance of colour contrast. We also give tips for effective colour use.

Care Home guide

Our Care Home guide 'Seeing it from their side - A guide to recognising and supporting sight loss in your care home' also has many useful tips for modifying the environment to suit blind and partially sighted people. You can download it from the Care and supported housing section further down this page.

Reducing the risk of falls

As we get older, physical changes and health conditions - and sometimes the medications used to treat those conditions - make falls more likely. Sight loss also increases the risk of falling. RNIB have developed 10 top tips to reduce your risk of falls. These tips can help your service users take charge of their situation.

RNIB Access Consultancy services

For more information on accessible environments, accessibility product brochures and courses in visual, disability and access awareness visit the Services section of RNIB Business.

Training

RNIB deliver specialist training and consultancy for professionals. This section contains training that may be of interest to professionals working with older people.

VILD: Specialist training and consultancy

RNIB's award-winning Visual Impairment and Learning Disability service (VILD) offers consultancy and training to help you deliver seamless, accessible eye care services for people with sight loss and a learning disability. Download the Introducing VILD guide:

You can also contact VILD by calling 0141 772 5588 or email learningdisability@rnib.org.uk

Visual awareness training

We run an interactive workshop that will help you understand the needs of blind and partially sighted people and improve the services you offer. The workshop can be a full or half day, and is available in-house or as an open training course at venues throughout the UK. For more information visit the Training section of RNIB Business.

RNIB Access Consultancy services

For information on our Access Consultancy Services, including product brochures and courses in visual, disability and access awareness visit the Services section of RNIB Business.

Care and supported housing

If you work with older people in the care home or supported housing profession, this page contains resources to help you in your role.

Seeing it from their side - A guide to recognising and supporting sight loss in your care home

This guide is designed to support people working with older people and people with learning difficulties living in care homes or supported living environments.

It covers what causes sight loss, how you can identify sight loss and good practice around guiding, care planning and communication and environmental design. Download a copy of Seeing it from their side:

Top 10 tips for supporting residents with sight loss

Thomas Pocklington Trust have produced a factsheet which contains 10 tips for supporting residents with sight loss. The tips first appeared in My Home Life, a bulletin for care home staff focusing on residents with sight loss. Visit the My Home Life website for more information. Download the Top 10 tips factsheet:

Reduce the risk of falls

We have put together some information on how older people with sight loss can reduce their risk of falling. The section includes a top 10 tips, information on putting together a fall prevention plan, and what to do if someone falls. Visit our Reduce your risk of falls section.

Dementia and sight loss

This section contains resources to help professionals working with people who have dementia and sight loss. It also signposts to information about sight loss and other conditions.

Dementia and sight loss - Frequently Asked Questions

This document, by Vision 2020 Dementia and Sight Loss Interest Group, addresses some of the frequently asked questions that are asked by people affected by dementia and sight loss, their family, friends, carers, and practitioners in dementia and vision services. The practical advice and information offered throughout this document has not been evaluated and is presented in order to share practical approaches.

Dementia and sight loss leaflet

RNIB Scotland and Alzheimer's Scotland have produced a leaflet which gives information on dementia and sight loss. It includes information on spotting the signs of dementia, and a checklist to identify sight loss.

Factsheets on dementia

Cataracts and dementia

The Dementia and Sight Loss Interest Group has produced a new fact sheet on cataracts and dementia.

Cataracts are a very common eye condition in older people. Most people with cataracts are over the age of 60 and they become more common as people age. Because of this many people may face having a cataract operation while also dealing with dementia.

This fact sheet is for people with dementia, their families, carers and health and social care professionals. It covers:

  • what a cataract is and its effect on vision
  • how to tell if you or someone you care for has a cataract
  • cataract surgery and the difference it can make to a person's quality of life
  • how to prepare for surgery
  • how to help someone with dementia cope with surgery
  • what happens after surgery.

Dementia, glasses and eye examinations

Two new dementia factsheets have been produced by the Vision 2020 Dementia and Sight Loss Interest Group.

‘Wearing glasses with dementia’ explores the issues people with dementia who need to wear glasses may face, and ‘Eye examinations for people with dementia’ provides information on eye examinations for people with dementia.

The factsheets will be useful for people with dementia, their families, carers and professionals.

Dementia Top tips

RNIB Scotland have produced some Top tips cards on dementia and sensory loss. In addition to sight loss, they also cover hearing loss. One covers communicating with someone with dementia, and the other covers environmental factors.

Practice Note - Falls, Dementia and Sight Loss

RNIB Scotland have also produced a practice note which supports staff to create an individualised action plan following a falls multi-factorial risk assessment.

Dementia and sight loss - online information

RNIB have developed an online resource offering information and support to people with dementia and sight loss. These pages provide useful advice and tips, including information on useful products for those with dementia, dual-sensory loss and other conditions as well as signposting to support services.

SCIE dementia gateway

If you work with people with dementia in nursing, residential or domiciliary settings you may find the Dementia gateway useful (it includes a section on Dementia and sight loss) There are lots of practical tips, tools and activities that will help you with your daily work. Each section has been written by a national dementia expert so you can be sure the information and guidance is up to date and reflects best practices in dementia care.

Dementia and Sight Loss Interest Group

The Dementia and Sight Loss Interest Group, formed in partnership with Alzheimer's Society and Thomas Pocklington Trust, raises awareness about the particular difficulties faced by people affected by dementia and problems with vision and visual perception. The Group aims to encourage dementia policies and practice to address sight loss and to make the most of vision, as well as to support the development and delivery of services for people with dementia and sight loss.

If you would like to join the online Interest Group, please visit the Vision 2020 website and click on Interest/Work Groups & Committees.

Activity, sight loss and dementia poster

A poster, put together by the Dementia and Sight Loss Interest group, was presented at the Vision 2020 Conference.

Specialist training and consultancy for professionals working in learning disability or dementia

RNIB's award-winning Visual Impairment and Learning Disability service (VILD) offers consultancy and training to help you deliver seamless, accessible eye care services for people with sight loss and a learning disability. There is more information in the Training section above or you can also contact VILD by calling 0141 772 5588 or emailing learningdisability@rnib.org.uk

Supporting older people in the community

This section gives information about how to support older blind and partially sighted people in the community. Here you will find our guide to adapting services for people with sight loss, as well as sign posting to some of our key servies that could benefit the people you work with.

Adapting your services for people with sight loss

We have produced a guide, with Age UK, to adapting services for older people with sight loss. 

RNIB and Action for Blind People services for blind and partially sighted people

RNIB and Action for Blind People provide many services that support blind and partially sighted older people in the community, reduce social isolation and help people adapt to sight loss.

Local Action/RNIB centres

Local Action for Blind People/RNIB centres can provide a range of services for blind and partially sighted people. Call our Helpline on 0303 123 9999 to find out where the nearest one is located. 

Sight loss support programmes

Our Sight loss support programmes, such as 'Finding Your Feet' or 'Living with sight loss' are designed to help blind and partially sighted people deal with both the practical and emotional challenges of sight loss.

Emotional support

RNIB's Emotional Support Service provides confidential telephone support to help people come to terms with feelings about sight loss.

Talk and Support

RNIB Talk and Support run telephone social groups for adults with sight loss. Telebefriending allows people to socialise in small groups over the phone, and Telephone book clubs bring blind and partially sighted people together over the phone to discuss books and reading.

Sightline

Sightline is an online searchable directory for services aimed at helping blind or partially sighted people.

RNIB audio book service - Talking books

We can help people who are struggling to read print to discover a new way of reading with our audio book service. Our service allows people to access to more than 20,000 high quality, unabridged audio books, delivered direct to their door.

RNIB National Library Service

RNIB National Library Service is the largest library in the UK for readers with sight loss. We offer a wide choice of fiction and non-fiction books in audio, braille and giant print.

Other local services

Eye Clinic Liaison Officers

Eye Clinic Liaison Officers (ECLOs) work closely with medical and nursing staff in the eye clinic, as well as the sensory team in social services, to connect newly-diagnosed blind and partially sighted people with the practical and emotional support they need to understand their diagnosis, deal with their sight loss and maintain their independence.

Local societies

Local sight loss charities, associations and societies also provide services. Call the Visionary Helpline 0208 417 0942 to find out what exists in your area.

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 niall.mcmurtry@rnib.org.uk  

OPTiC

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.

VISAL

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.

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