Raising awareness among health and social care professionals of the vision needs of people with learning disabilities

Posted: 
10 December 2015

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In this Expert series piece, Joanne Dick, RNIB Vision support officer complex needs, and Dr. Janet Finlayson, Glasgow Caledonian University, discuss their research into Vision awareness training, which has demonstrated that vision awareness training provided by RNIB is effective in raising awareness amongst health and social care professionals of the vision needs of people with learning disabilities.

 
People with intellectual disabilities are ten times more likely to have a visual impairment, compared to the wider population, yet lack of awareness of the particular vision needs of people with learning disabilities amongst health and social care professionals can act as a barrier to them accessing appropriate care and treatment. In 2014, RNIB, in collaboration with Glasgow Caledonian University and NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde, secured funds from the Scottish Government to conduct a research project to evaluate vision awareness training. We have designed and delivered training to health and social care professionals who support people with learning disabilities.
 
During the 12-month evaluation period, vision awareness training was delivered to 104 health and social care professionals who work with people with learning disabilities. Ninety (87 per cent) completed pre- and post-training questionnaires, using repeat measures, to determine training outcomes. Our vision awareness training was found to be effective in significantly increasing health and social care professionals’ knowledge/awareness of the vision needs of people with learning disabilities, and their confidence in recognising signs of sight loss and recommending eye test referrals for their clients. Our vision awareness training therefore, does help address a recognised barrier to effective vision health care delivery for people with learning disabilities.
 
The research team who conducted this evaluation are Joanne Dick, June Neil and Linda Mitchell at RNIB, Janet Finlayson at Glasgow Caledonian University, and Nicola Robinson at NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde. If you would like more information about our vision awareness training then please contact June Neil at [email protected]
 
The findings from this research project evaluation have been published in the British Journal of Visual Impairment. If you would like more information about the research findings then please contact Janet Finlayson at [email protected] . You can also access a copy of the research article directly at the Sage journals website.
 
The article reference is:
Dick J, Finlayson J, Neil J, Mitchell L, Robinson N (2015) Vision awareness training for health and social care professionals working with people with intellectual disabilities: Post-training outcomes. British Journal of Visual Impairment 33 (3): 227-238
 

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