Shaping services

This section showcases some examples of our service innovation. It provides information about research and development projects we are involved in, and how this work is helping to shape better services for blind and partially sighted people.

You may also be interested in our Customers have their say section, which gives information about the work we do to facilitate consultation with blind and partially sighted people, or our Research in progress section, which gives information about the research projects we are involved in.

Blind and partially sighted people require a range of support to help get on with everyday life. Changes in sight loss or personal circumstances can mean a need for fresh advice and support.

Electronic Certificate of Vision Impairment Pilot Project - evaluation report 

RNIB has been working with Moorfields Eye Hospital NHS Foundation Trust and Medisoft to pilot two different electronic Certificate of Vision Impairment (eCVI) systems. The project compared and contrasted the learning from the implementation and use of the systems, and the benefits they bring to patients
The eCVI is designed to simplify and speed up the certification process and enable blind and partially sighted people to access help and support more quickly, at the point of certification. The overall aim is to improve quality of life. 
The findings from this pilot have been published in an evaluation report available now. 

Partnership work with sight loss charities and volunteers

RNIB has worked alongside a number of other sight loss organisations to develop a Quality Framework for the provision of Information, Advice and Guidance to blind and partially sighted people.

Sight loss charities provide a wide range of invaluable services for blind and partially sighted people. However, the organisations providing these services, the services that are available and the quality of service provided can vary significantly across the country.

The aim of this framework is to support individuals working in local sight loss charities to provide a consistent quality of service, as well as help to assess services and support development and changes. The framework has been developed from interviews and surveys with blind and partially sighted people about what good customer service should look like.

Learn more about the Quality Framework for the provision of Information, Advice and Guidance to blind and partially sighted people.

Eye Clinic Liaison Officers / Sight Loss Advisers

Following commissioned work focusing on support needed in eye clinics for patients, RNIB alongside other organisations such as Local voluntary organisations and the NHS, successfully rolled out the Eye Clinic Liaison Officer / Sight Loss Adviser  (ECLO) role in a number of ophthalmology departments across the UK. The ECLO is there to provide critical emotional and practical support to patients at the point of need – whether that is at the point of diagnosis or just when they feel they are not coping well.

The model has now been successfully rolled out across the UK. RNIB intelligences shows us that 31 per cent of eye departments across the UK have a qualified ECLO in post – but this is not enough. As part of RNIBs new strategy, we will continue to work towards everyone having access to an ECLO service by 2019.

Sight Loss Data Tool version 3

The Sight Loss Data Tool provides information about blind and partially sighted people, and those at risk of sight loss. This information is provided at a local level throughout the UK and the tool can be used to produce specific Local Authority and custom reports. In Version 3 of the Sight Loss Data Tool this information is updated and where possible provided at an even more local level, giving information for District Councils as well as Local Authorities. Version 3 also includes benchmarking data so that specific areas can be compared to the national picture and to neighbouring or similar geographical areas.

Start using the current version of the Sight Loss Data Tool.

Tackling unemployment for blind and partially sighted people

Along with the University of Birmingham, we carried out a three-year research project to help improve the employment prospects of blind and partially sighted people. Working alongside a group of employment specialists and approximately 100 blind and partially sighted people, we designed and tested:

  • a standard assessment model that has increased our understanding of the skills, aspirations and barriers to employment of blind and partially sighted people
  • innovative support strategies for those furthest from the labour market, which has helped inform how we deliver services for blind and partially sighted people seeking work.

The Employment assessment toolkit and new support strategies are used by employment specialists across RNIB and Action for Blind People, whilst the toolkit has been shared with external employment professionals in this country and abroad.The toolkit has been adopted as the main assessment model across New Zealand, by a leading charity in Poland, and is currently being trialled in Florida, USA. We continue to receive enquiries about the toolkit from around the world. The toolkit can also be found on the website of the Employment Related Services Association.

Download the Employment Assessment Toolkit.

Preventing sight loss pilot projects

Stopping people losing their sight unnecessarily is a key priority for RNIB. The development of seamless eye care pathways and a robust evidence base about what works in relation to sight loss prevention lies at the centre of this priority.

Pilot projects across the UK were established to develop evidence of effective sight loss prevention interventions. London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine conducted independent process and outcome evaluation for the five pilot projects. The findings will be reported in spring 2015.

Glaucoma case finding pilot with the African Caribbean community

This pilot study was designed to test the efficacy of glaucoma case finding based in a GP Practice, targeting people of African and Caribbean descent aged 40 to 65. RNIB worked in partnership with Hackney Primary Care Trust and GP Practices in Hackney to invite more than 3,000 patients for glaucoma eye checks.

Service innovation to help people live well with diabetes and reduce sight loss

RNIB and Action for Blind People worked with local health services and communities in Bradford to test a suite of interventions to increase access to eye care services and improve management of diabetes. The interventions included the Diabetic Retinopathy Screening Service sending text appointment reminders; a ring and remind service in Bradford Royal Infirmary diabetic ophthalmology clinic; a self care folder 'Living Well with Diabetes' and community education and awareness activities in Keighley.

Community members: reaching out to promote eye health in Glasgow

In Glasgow a network of volunteers was established and local shop owners became eye health champions, promoting the uptake of eye examinations amongst the Pakistani population aged 40 to 65. In addition, health professionals promoted eye examinations and Diabetic Retinopathy Screening to Pakistani people living with diabetes.

Promoting eye health in the heart of West Belfast

In Belfast, RNIB Northern Ireland worked in partnership with the Upper Springfield Trust to develop a programme of community outreach and awareness-raising to increase uptake of eye examinations and people's understanding of eye health and entitlements to care. The target population was people aged 40 to 65 living in the Falls, Clonard, Whiterock and Upper Springfield wards.

Community eye care for glaucoma: a pilot Ophthalmic Diagnostic and Treatment Centre

In the Rhondda Valley, South Wales, RNIB Cymru worked with the Cwm Taf Health Board to pilot an optometry-led Ophthalmic Diagnostic and Treatment Centre in a community hospital seeing people with ocular hypertension and stable glaucoma. The service was designed to provide a local service, improve uptake and help improve capacity within ophthalmology services, thereby reducing waiting times for people aged 40 and over.

All of the projects were informed by local eye health equity profiles, qualitative research about the barriers and enablers to uptake of eye care services and a literature review.

Find out more about this project in the document below, or watch the video.

Watch our video

Watch our short video that introduces the key findings of the qualitative research.

Encouraging older people to participate

We have been working with European partners to design a toolkit to encourage and enable older people with sight loss to participate actively and have a voice in their local communities.

The tool offers a step-by-step guide to planning, organising and following up the 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. It’s called ‘VISAL’ (Visually Impaired Seniors Active Learning). To find out more, and to download the toolkit, visit our Working with older people section.

The programme has been selected as a "success story" by a panel of experts from the Directorate-General for Education and Culture of the European Commission. It has also been marked as such in the Erasmus+ Project Results Platform. "Success stories" are finalised projects that have distinguished themselves by their impact, contribution to policy-making, innovative results and/or creative approach and can be a source of inspiration for others.

Reaching older people through partnerships in the community

Following a successful bid to the Lottery’s Reaching Communities fund this project builds on the successful work of our “Older People Taking Control” pilot. We are developing unique partnerships with local sight loss organisations, fire and rescue services, and a range of voluntary, private and public sector organisations. Through these links we aim to raise awareness of eye health issues, identify those with or at risk of sight loss and increase access to support for older people.

Support is offered through a range of services designed to build the confidence and skills of older blind and partially sighted people. Peer support groups and confidence building courses are on offer to reduce feelings of isolation and loneliness and improve wellbeing. We will also work alongside older blind and partially sighted people to involve them in campaigning and influencing change.

The main partnership between RNIB and six local societies enables shared learning, engagement and development of current and new services. By working with the fire service to increase their understanding of eye health and living with sight loss we are now utilising their trusted position in the community extending our reach and enabling us to identify those with or at risk of sight loss who are furthest away from support.

We are replicating this model by training staff from other organisations in visual awareness and how to use Thomas Pocklington’s Eyes Right Toolkit to further extend the eye health awareness message and reach more people.

Read an article about this project in NB - our online magazine for eye health professionals.

Early Intervention and Rehabilitation in Eye Care Services project

This project launched in autumn 2014 was developed in partnership with the chair of the Rehab Workers Network. The project supports the UK Vision strategy as it is based on implementing the Adult sight loss pathway and Seeing it my way outcomes.

The pathway offers commissioners and practitioners a unique tool to enable people with sight loss to get the right support at the right time and from the right person. 

Our 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 review return on investment.

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.

It will enable us to listen to customers to understand the independence and confident living outcomes they want to achieve, to understand rehabilitation services delivered at the moment by local authorities and then work out how to work with sector colleagues to design sustainable service models that deliver these outcomes.

The funding from the Department of Health Innovation, Excellence and Strategy Development (IESD) Fund covers work in England though we will work with colleagues in the Vision 2020 UK Rehabilitation and Low Vision group (which is UK wide) on this project. The project launched in autumn 2014.

Early development of babies and young children with a visual impairment

The Optimum VI is the first national research study of its kind into the early development of babies and young children with a visual impairment. The findings are likely to have significant implications for our understanding about the best ways to support babies with a visual impairment and will be of interest to both professionals and parents in the UK and internationally.

The project is a funding partnership between Fight for Sight, RNIB and Great Ormond Street Hospital Children's Charity.

Some important findings are emerging from the research into early development of babies with vision impairment such as a relationship between young children's social skills and particular patterns of responses in the brain to emotional stimuli. These preliminary findings have been presented by the researchers at international conferences.

Online training on the effective teaching of literacy through braille

We know that the levels of support and expertise available to children who use braille in mainstream settings vary greatly and that many mainstream and specialist VI teachers lack confidence in applying their literacy teaching skills to the medium of braille.

RNIB and NatSIP have developed a certificated advanced online training course to support the teaching of braille literacy by QTVIs. More information can be found on the VIEW website.