- Country Updates
- Healthy Eyes
- Support and Services
- Living Life
- Plans for Action
- March for change
- Reasons to attend Vision UK 2011
- Helping others regain independence
UK Vision Strategy newsletter
Issue 13: April 2011
The sweet smell of spring is in the air and with pollen filling the skies and footpaths in the lead up to summer - it's good to see conferences relating to the aims of the Strategy springing up across the UK. It is particularly pleasing to see recognition being given to the needs of people with a learning disability.
Final preparations are underway for Vision UK 2011. Earl Howe, Parliamentary under Secretary of State for Quality is confirmed to speak about the vision for the 'Big Society' on the eye health and sight loss sector.
Eye care commissioning guidance, developed by a collaborative group of eye care specialists, will also be launched on the day by NHS Alliance Chief Executive Michael Sobanja.
Delegates will find out about a range of key issues including social care, public health and how accessible tablets are revolutionising the way we communicate in presentations from David Behan, Director General of Social Care at Department of Health; John Ashton, Chair of UK Public Health Association; and Sarah Herrlinger, Director of Special Markets Apple US.
Find out more and register to attend now
Did you know?“It is predicted that by 2020 the number of people with sight loss will rise to over 2,250,000.” (RNIB, 2008).
UKVS and GP Access and Awareness project
The UK Vision Strategy team are leading a project regarding access to GP surgeries which focuses on communication issues, particularly with frontline staff. The first pilot facilitation session was held on Wednesday 13 April at a GP Practice in South Kent the other two sessions will take place in May.
The sessions will raise awareness of the issues that people with sensory loss and learning disabilities face when accessing their GP practice. It will sign-post practice staff to an online toolkit for further training/information and feature the DVD developed by the UK Vision Strategy team.
For more information please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
NICE publishes glaucoma quality standard
Approximately 10 percent of UK blindness registrations are attributed to glaucoma and it accounts for over one million hospital eye service visits each year.
The new NICE glaucoma standards consist of 12 statements, including that people diagnosed with chronic open angle glaucoma (COAG), suspected COAG or with ocular hypertension (OHT) are monitored at intervals according to their risk of progressive loss of vision.
Barbara McLaughlan, RNIB Eye Health Campaigns Manager, says: "We hope that NICE quality standards will mean an improved and consistent treatment experience and outcomes for all glaucoma patients. We particularly welcome the recognition that patients must have relevant and accessible information, that there must be integration between health and social care, and the option of a patient register.”
“We are also very pleased to have a standard to ensure sufficient capacity at clinics and systems to identify people needing clinical priority if appointments are cancelled, delayed or missed."
Chronic open angle glaucoma (COAG) is a common and potentially blinding condition. There are usually no symptoms until the condition is advanced and many people will be unaware there is a problem with their eyes until severe visual damage has occurred. Ocular hypertension (OHT) is a major risk factor for developing COAG, although COAG can occur with or without raised eye pressure.
People diagnosed with COAG, suspected COAG or with OHT should also have access to timely follow up appointments and specialist investigations at intervals in accordance with NICE guidance.
Find out more about the glaucoma standards
RNIB and IGA have developed a website which will support professionals to find out if they are meeting their patients' information needs
LINk review of responses to visual impairment survey - access to health care services
In a recent survey across Lincolnshire it was found that people with a visual impairment have the most difficulty accessing health care services due to the format provided by hospitals and GP practices.
The survey was carried out to demonstrate areas of good practice as well as identify inequalities and areas for improvement and ultimately provide commissioners with valuable patient input to improve services.
Out of 468 completed surveys, several common themes emerged from the patient feedback and comment provided. These were:
• current systems can lead to inequalities of access to healthcare
• lack of understanding of visual impairment by health care workers
• patients reliance on carers/family friends to help them access health care
• transport issues
This work was completed collaboratively by South Lincolnshire Blind Society (SLBS); Lincoln and Lindsey Blind Society (LLBS); Lincolnshire Visual Impairment Services (LVIS); Action for Blind People and Sense.
ScotlandScottish spring day
'The Scottish Vision Strategy spring conference 2011: Sight Loss and Complex Needs' was held in Stirling on March 8 and attended by over 90 people.
The conference heard from Professor Daphne McCulloch of Glasgow Caledonian University's Vision Sciences department, Professor Arash Sahraie of Aberdeen University, RNIB chief executive Lesley-Anne Alexander and Peter Hibberd, a parent of a young man with a learning disability.
Workshops discussed a range of issues, including sight loss among people with dementia, learning disabilities and stroke sufferers. As well as this, Professor Jill Pell of Glasgow University explored the developing agenda between eye-care and public health.
Feedback from those who attended was very positive:
• "Excellent all round"
• "Breadth and level of knowledge and skill was outstanding and presented in a very accessible, professional and friendly way"
• "A great and informative day. Many practical tips and advice to use in practice. Definitely all made sense"
• "Real discussions around challenging issues for practitioners"
For more information and presentations from the day contact email@example.com
Spend to save to improve sight loss services in Scotland
With the number of people affected by sight loss projected to double over the next two decades, RNIB Scotland has launched a manifesto for the Scottish Parliament elections on May 5.
The projected increase - which could rise to affect over 360,000 people - is due to Scotland's ageing population and persistently poor health record. Already, up to one in six out-patient appointments at some hospitals are for eye-care.
With health and social care policy devolved to the Scottish Parliament, the Scottish Vision Strategy is pressing for a five-year forward plan for services concerning macular-related diseases, and for free eye-examinations to be preserved as a vital step in diagnosing preventable sight loss. Last year, 1.78 million Scots had free eye examinations, and 80,000 were referred on for further treatment.
For those newly diagnosed with sight loss, the manifesto is calling for better emotional support. Too often," it says, "people are told the name and nature of their condition, and what practical aids are available. But they get no help in coming to terms with the prospect of losing their vision."
RNIB Scotland Director John Legg said: "The current annual cost of sight problems to the public sector is around £17,600 per person - roughly equivalent to 10 hospital admissions. So we need to do everything we can now to contain this rise, by treating sight loss conditions as early as possible when they can be arrested or even reversed."
"Spend-to-save may be a tough message in today's economic climate, but we are calling on politicians to bite the bullet - it does make sense."
Northern IrelandMeetings with Ministers
During February and March, Charlie Mack, Director of RNIB Northern Ireland and his senior team conducted a series of face-to-face meetings with Ministers of the Northern Ireland Executive to further engage them with the aims of the Strategy.
All were clear in stating their commitment to the delivery of the Vision Strategy in Northern Ireland. Discussions have also been held with the local political parties about their manifesto pledges with respect to disability and equality issues in the run up to elections to the Northern Ireland Assembly which will be held on 5 May 2011.
Making a pledge at Belfast
To bring the message about making information accessible for blind and partially sighted people to the forefront of political representatives' minds a pledge event was held in Belfast on 19 January.
The event was well attended by two junior ministers of the Northern Ireland Executive, the Lord Mayor of Belfast and three Members of the Legislative Assembly (MLAs).
The tangible impact of this event and other similar events is the establishment of a Northern Ireland regional transcription unit. Political information has also been made accessible at the recent Westminster elections.
On top of this success, the five Health and Social Care Trusts in Northern Ireland have come together to develop an action plan about the access needs of blind and partially sighted people in relation to health information.
WalesVision group engaged in Wales
The Wales Cross Party Vision Group (CPVG) met in January to discuss progress and challenges in relation to the Wales Vision Strategy Implementation Plan. Presentations were received from members of the Advisory Group and a service user. The group play a pivotal role in helping to secure engagement from the Welsh Assembly Government to progress the more challenging objectives of the Welsh plan.
The CPVG will host a reception at the Senedd (National Assembly for Wales) on 15th June 2011 to mark National Eye Health Week and the first anniversary of the Wales Vision Strategy Implementation Plan. RNIB Cymru's eye health inequalities report will also be launched at the event. The project funded by the Pfizer Foundation explores the barriers to sight tests in the South Wales Valleys. It is hoped this will provide an opportunity to raise key issues and meet new Assembly Members following the elections in May.
Hearing from the sourceFollowing seven service user feedback events across Wales late last year, RNIB Cymru have recently met with directors of performance from local health boards to discuss service modernisation within eye care. The events provided an opportunity for patients and service users to share their experience of eye care services.
Topics of debate at the event included:
• lack of basic refractive information from optometrists
• lack of support for patients following diagnosis of sight loss
• transport issues
• waiting times and capacity issues for cataract surgery
A small working group has been convened to take forward work and a summary of the findings will be presented to the National Advisory Group for Health in Wales.
For more information contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Making Vision Matter in Wales
Cross-sector organisations are joining together in Wales to consider activities for National Eye Health Week from 13-19 June 2011. The group includes representation from Optometry Wales, Royal College of Ophthalmologists, British and Irish Orthoptists Society, Age Cymru, MEGAFOCUS, Wales Council for the Blind and the pharmaceutical industry.
The group will promote the importance of eye health and the need for regular sight tests for all as part of the national campaign 'Vision Matters'.
GPs more aware of eye care
Optometry Wales and the Welsh Optometry Postgraduate Education Centre, (WOPEC) are soon to deliver eye health awareness sessions to GPs across Wales in May and June. This will be part of GPs compulsory continued professional development programme.
The presentation covers the importance of referral via primary care and community based optometry for most eye conditions. It is also designed to alert GPs to the importance of the Welsh Eye Care Initiative (WECI); in particular PEARS which is the Primary Eye Referral Scheme, a fast track service where GPs or patients can self refer to a community optometry practice and receive first hand, quality assistance and diagnosis. The sessions are scheduled to begin during May.
For more information contact email@example.com
Glaucoma & Concordance Conference
The International Glaucoma Association (IGA) and RNIB Cymru are hosting a Glaucoma and concordance event on 6 May in Cardiff. The event is aimed at ophthalmic nurses, orthoptists (involved in Glaucoma services), technicians and Eye Clinic Liaison Officers. Delegates will hear from leading ophthalmologists on key developments in glaucoma treatments and new pathways. CPD approved.
• David Wright, Chief Executive of the International Glaucoma Association
• James Morgan, Professor of Ophthalmology, Chair Wales Glaucoma Alliance
• Mike Austin, Clinical Lead for Focus on Ophthalmology (DSU, Welsh Assembly Government)
Attendance to the event is free of charge. To register your attendance or for more information please contact Katharine Drinkwater on 029 2045 0440, or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Helping others regain independence
Real people telling their triumph-over-adversity stories are fronting a new information campaign by Action for Blind People.
One of the eight people involved in the campaign, Linda (56), explains how the charity's employment advisors provide specialist support and advice to help blind and partially sighted people find employment, start their own businesses or stay in their current jobs following sight loss. After losing her sight in a car accident, Action worked with Linda, from Warrington, to start up her own business and regain her independence. Linda now runs a successful consultancy and, with the use of assistive technology, is able to communicate with potential customers, family and friends.
Visually impaired Mohammed (28), from Birmingham, has benefited from Action's employment services, receiving support in applying for jobs and accessing assistive technology. He is now able to travel more independently and his confidence has risen as a result.
Richard Deeks, Action’s Head of Communications says: “This information campaign raises awareness of how we make a difference, with powerful personal stories giving first-hand accounts of how lives can be changed, thanks to Action.”
To request a copy of any of the Action leaflets or for further information, contact Action for Blind People or the RNIB Helpline 0303 123 9999.
Meeting sight standards in Suffolk
The County Sensory Team in Suffolk has recently produced a report evidencing how the area is meeting the standards set out by the Good Practice in Sight standards (RNIB September 2008).
The report “Good Practice in Sight – Meeting the rehabilitation and support needs of adults with a visual impairment in Suffolk,” includes evidence and a number of case studies about how they are achieving the standard requirements.
Suffolk’s rehabilitation services are provided by both qualified rehabilitation officers and rehabilitation assistants depending on the complexity of a person’s situation.
The rehabilitation officers work closely with social workers and support workers within the team to ensure that a holistic specialist service is provided to meet the needs of people with a visual impairment. The team has also appointed a development officer, with the aim of working towards implementing the outcomes outlined in the UK Vision Strategy and working in partnership with others to increase resources within Suffolk.
The County Sensory Team in Suffolk provides a county-wide service to people aged 18 years and over who have a visual or hearing impairment or dual sensory loss. For more information contact Caroline.Carr@suffolk.gov.uk
Helping people with sight loss get out and about
RNIB Cymru's specialist Welfare Rights Home Visiting Service is expanding from 4 to 11 local authorities from June 2011.
The home visiting service has close links with Eye Clinic Liaison Officers, ensuring that individuals who are newly diagnosed have access to the benefits that they are entitled to, as well as offering help around the home and transportation.
Ansley Workman, Head of Independent Living at RNIB Cymru, told us: "We are delighted that we can now provide this vital service to more people in Wales. We will be able to assist approximately 1,200 people with sight loss and estimate an increase in their benefits of circa £2 million."
Assisting with this work, Big Lottery Fund grants have been awarded to three local societies, North Wales Society for the Blind, Vision Impaired West Glamorgan and Cardiff Institute for the Blind, trading as Cardiff Vale and Valleys, who are working in partnership with RNIB Cymru. RNIB Cymru is also working with the Department for Work and Pensions with the vision to develop a pan Wales's service.
Higher rate mobility component of disability living allowance
Together we have reached a huge milestone, as of 11 April 2011 people with severe sight loss can start to claim the higher rate mobility component of disability living allowance (DLA).This decision means an extra £45m a year shared between around 26,000 people.
Campaigning started back in 2006 when the largest lobby of Parliament by blind and partially sighted people was held with 1200 people travelling to Westminster.
At the end of 2007 MPs talked face to face with people who might benefit from the changes to DLA. And in October 2008 RNIB led a second Parliamentary lobby, which beat previous records with over 1500 people attending to voice their views on this longstanding issue.
During the Report Stage of the Welfare Reform Bill in March 2009, MPs debated the changes and the Government accepted the amendment that would deliver them. MPs paid tribute to the way they had been lobbied by constituents and what a difference this had made to their understanding of the issue.
This huge achievement would not have been possible without the hundreds of campaign supporters who wrote to their MPs, encouraging them to write to the Secretary of State, to sign the three early day motions, to attend the lobbies of Parliament and finally, to support the amendment.
For more information about this amendment and whether you meet the requirements for this allowance contact RNIB Helpline: 0303 123 9999
People, News and Events
Add as friend
National Eye Health Week (NEHW) would like to be your friend and work with you to raise awareness of eye health and the importance of regular sight tests.
Becoming a 'friend' of the Week entitles organisations to a huge range of benefits including publicity materials, access to the official campaign logo, resources enabling organisations to promote their involvement, and inclusion on the NEHW website.
Last year over 300 organisations took part and this year the Week is looking to increase this number. Organisations who have already become friends include the British and Irish Orthoptic Society (BIOs), Action for Blind People and optical provider Haine and Smith.
Giles Smith, Partner at Haine and Smith, said: “We are proud to be involved in National Eye Health Week and see it as a real opportunity for us to cost- effectively market our services at a time when eye health and sight tests will be high on the public agenda. We understand that for a sector awareness week to work, everyone has to contribute and, in doing so, everyone can benefit.”
Under the banner ‘I Care About Eyecare’, awareness raising activities during the Week include news and features in the national and regional media, live events across the country and a radio day.
Friends packages range in price from £100 - £1,000* (there are some exemptions for some not-for-profit organisations). All funds received go directly to supporting the Campaign’s activities and the publicity surrounding the Week. Interested parties can sign-up at Vision Matters
March for change – Wednesday 11 May
To let Government know about concerns regarding the potential impact of the Welfare Reform Bill and Government’s cuts packages, UK Disabled People’s council is urging all organisations and individuals across the disability sector to take part in a march, lobby and rally on 11 May.
The march will give blind and partially sighted people, and other people with disabilities, an opportunity to express their solidarity and anger at the cuts threatening their benefits, services, jobs and rights. Walking past the Houses of Parliament, the march will ensure MPs and Peers are aware of our concerns.
- Gather for the march from 11.30 on the Embankment by Horseguards Avenue. March begins at 12.30pm
The Welfare Reform Bill will have reached a critical stage in the House of Commons by 11 May. Following the march, the lobby will provide an opportunity to share with MPs, making sure that they understand the combined impact of the cuts on people's lives and futures.
- Expected to take place in Westminster Hall between 14.30 and 17.30.
A rally will be held in the afternoon at the Methodist Central Hall to give disabled people a chance to have their say. Politicians from the main political parties will be present to explain how they plan to uphold the rights, equality and participation of disabled people as promised in the UN Convention on the rights of people with disabilities.
- Methodist Central Hall (close to the Houses of Parliament) with speeches between 15.00 and 15.30.
What do you need to do?
• Visit the UK Disabled People’s Council (UKDPC) website: http://www.ukdpc.net/ for more information and to register your attendance on the march
• If you’re planning to lobby your MP, write to request a meeting. You’re much more likely to get to see them if you do.
• If you want to attend the rally, book a place. Space is limited – sign up now
Raising the profile
Anita Lightstone, Programme Director of the UKVS and Lesley-Anne Alexander, Chief Executive of RNIB presented at the 10th International Low Vision Conference in Kuala Lumpur during February.
The conference brought together researchers in the field of low vision from across the world to share knowledge.
Anita spoke about the framework developed by the UKVS team to monitor the impact of the Strategy across the UK, the importance of the provision of emotional support through Eye Clinic Liaison Officers (ECLOs) and the success of the Engagement, Partnership, Information, Communication project (EPIC). EPIC provides an evidence base for eye health and sight loss service planning and the project will shortly begin work with round three areas.
"It was fantastic to see so many good quality papers presented across topics related to low vision and rehabilitation. Particularly of note was the growing global awareness of emotional aspects of sight loss and the need for appropriate interventions.
Lesley-Anne Alexander presented about the impact of "You and Your Vision", the charter developed through the UK Vision Strategy section, as well as presenting a poster on the very successful Northern Ireland community accessibility project.
Other UK wide work showcased at the conference included the work of Visual Impairment and Learning Disability Services (VILD), who have a recognised excellence in supporting people with a visual impairment and learning disability and the Welsh children's low vision toolkit. All presentations were well received and there was strong interest in the UKVS with requests for follow up information. For more information contact email@example.com
Valuing our Vision
Eye care professionals from across the UK took part in SeeAbility’s Valuing Our Vision conference in Leeds on 30 March. There was an impressive range of speakers covering both medical and social issues.
A range of topics were covered on the day. Gordon Ilett, an independent Optometrist, spoke on eye examinations for people with a learning disability and Ophthalmologist Rachel Piling explained, “How patients and carers can get the best out of the eye clinic
Scott Watkin from The Department of Health, who has learning disabilities, said: “Having my eye surgery has changed my life, since I got this job at the Department of Health – I’ve achieved a lot. People with learning disabilities need reasonable adjustments made to eye care services. If we can get eye care right for people who have learning disabilities then we can get it right for everyone”.
David Scott-Ralphs, Chief Executive of SeeAbility commented: “As the leading eye care charity which works with people with visual impairment and other disabilities we know that their needs often go undetected. The conference was a rare opportunity for people from all aspects of the eye care journey to focus solely on the needs of people with learning disabilities.”
Delegates left with plans to put into action what they had learnt. One optometrist resolved, “I will review my history taking technique to ask more appropriate and relevant questions.” While a member of hospital staff commented, “I will print off the information from the SeeAbility website and implement the forms in our eye clinic”. An orthoptist said, “I will look at numbers of children who attend our primary screening service who have learning disabilities and then see if a special school screen would be beneficial”.
For more information visit SeeAbility
Call for research about dementia
The National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) has issued a call for research on dementia. This extends across the translational pathway, covering the fields of cause, cure and care, including prevention.
Applications which support multi-disciplinary and cross-professional collaborations are particularly encouraged. In addition:
- applications that may lead to improvement in the prevention, diagnosis, assessment, treatment, management or care of people with dementia
- research should seek to demonstrate benefits to the health and/or well being of individuals with dementia or their carers and/or improvements in the organisation or delivery of care
Seven of the NIHR managed research programmes are participating and research proposals should relate to dementia and fit within the remit of one of the seven programmes . Click on the relevant programme links below to find out more about this funding opportunity and apply. Applicants are asked to submit proposals for the above call by 20 May 2011.
- Efficacy and Mechanism Evaluation (EME)
- Health Services Research (HSR)
- Health Technology Assessment (HTA)
- Programme Grants for Applied Research (PGfAR)
- Public Health Research (PHR)
- Research for Patient Benefit (RfPB)
Tell us your news:Do you have a story or contribution for the next edition of the UK Vision Strategy newsletter? Please contact Janelle Heath, Communications Manager UK Vision Strategy. Email: Janelle.firstname.lastname@example.org.
UK Vision Strategy implementation team:
For general enquiries, feedback and suggestions please contact the UK Vision Strategy Team. Email: email@example.com or Tel: 0207 391 2157.