Local authorities failing to provide vital support for blind and partially sighted people
Thursday, 25 February 2016
Blind and partially sighted people are waiting months for rehabilitation vision support services, as local authorities fail to meet their obligations under the Care Act.
The research by RNIB found that people who have lost their sight are often left waiting for months before receiving a vision rehabilitation assessment.
The charity is calling on local authorities (LAs) to ensure all blind and partially sighted people are seen and have a support plan in place within 28 days from the point they first have contact with the LA.
Why 28 days?
RNIB carried out a Freedom of Information (FOI) request in January 2015 which found that 28 days is a timeframe that LAs can comfortably meet. Many are already achieving this. In addition, a clear timeframe ensures that people know what to expect from the LA and that they are not left alone in a time of great need.
The FOI request also discovered that budgets for vision rehabilitation have fallen by an average of 15 per cent over the past five years. It also highlighted instances where low numbers of people were referred for an assessment.
One LA reported that 251 people with vision impairment had been in contact between April and November 2015, but only four were referred.
The findings follow RNIB's My Voice report last year, which shared the views and experiences of blind and partially sighted people in the UK. The report revealed that just one in three people received any mobility training in the first year after experiencing sight loss and only one in five received practical support around the home.
Fazilet Hadi, Group Director of Engagement at RNIB, said: “People need to receive the right support as quickly as possible to learn new skills and gain confidence. Early support can keep people independent and reduce the need for more costly social care.”