“Game-changer” for sight loss?

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There have been several reports in the press and media about a significant breakthrough regarding stem cells in the treatment of age related macular degeneration (AMD). AMD is the single biggest form of sight loss in older people affecting over 600,000 people in the UK and is the most prevalent eye condition associated with acquired deafblindness.

The promise this treatment offers is beyond calculation in terms of the benefits to older people with regard to quality of life and mental wellbeing. And the positive impact it will have on their confidence to stay mobile, communicate and access information.

Click this link for an article on the: BBC News website. Or search most of the national dailies and science and health journals websites for more information. Stem cell work has recently been described as a game changer for people with Multiple Sclerosis (click here). The same can surely be said for people with AMD.

Hi-VisUK in Cornwall

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Since January this year Hi-VisUk has been in Cornwall working with the local authority on the specialist adult deafblindness aspects of the Care Act. This includes our unique training and qualifications for staff to increase an authority’s capacity to meet their duties regarding deafblind adults. Part of a three-year contract secured by Hi-VisUK, this will see us training hundreds of staff across the county.

This builds on our groundbreaking work in Hartlepool with the local authority and local providers.  It also complements our work ongoing with Bradford council’s sensory support services. Our work with all local authorities across England continues to grow alongside and partly through our partnership with the Social Care Institute for Excellence (SCIE) with whom we jointly arrange open-course social-care training on age related deafblindness and the Care Act.

Hi-VisUK – Bradford partnership boost

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For several years we have enjoyed an excellent working relationship with the City of Bradford Metropolitan District Council through its Sensory Needs Service. Our collaboration continues to go from strength to strength. It all started with their team manager, Julie Ralph and her colleague Margaret Hird sampling our training which at the time was through our In Good Hands project. Bradford then commissioned us to deliver training to their teams on site including to some of their colleagues from neighbouring local authorities.

Recently two very exciting developments are taking shape. We both agree on the vital importance of local authorities being deafblind aware across a broad range departments and services, not just sensory services. But these are lean times with budget cuts severely limiting the ambitions of nearly every local authority in the land.

So to spread the training throughout Bradford City Council, we trained and mentored some of their sensory team who have now started to deliver our courses on their site. This work is done under a licence with us and all resources remain our copyright. We observe and monitor quality. Secondly we have been supporting them with their own first deafblindness e-learning course to further spread the awareness training across the Council.

Care Act compliant training: Hi-VisUK & SCIE

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Our aim is to build capacity of others to support older people with acquired dual sensory loss. A key element of this is the provision of our unique accredited training.

Staying in touch

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Our staff make it a priority to meet as many older people as possible living with dual sensory loss each year where there is no organisation in an area to do this vital work.

Intergenerational awareness

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Hi-VisUK will be taking over much of the pioneering work of In Good Hands, our sister deafblind support project.

Listening to older people

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Hi-VisUK has volunteers trained in interview skills to support our research and evaluation evaluation activities.

Combating isolation

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Hi-VisUK brings older people living with dual sensory loss together throughout the year. They come from all corners and include their carers and communicator guides.

Strong foundations

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Hartlepool Borough Council is a key partner with Hi-VisUK in the development of a new pioneering co-production model for identification and support of older people living with dual sensory loss.

Capacity building

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Hi-VisUK will continue the investment by our sister project, In Good Hands, to build the capacity of Sunderland and North Durham Royal Society for the Blind to become a dual sensory service for their members and local older people in Sunderland and north County Durham.

Their volunteers and staff are being supported with training in deafblind awareness and how to use our identification tool. This will enable them to identify older people with the condition and provide appropriate support.

Older people identified as having a dual sensory loss will be supported by the Society’s volunteers and where appropriate by HiVisUK staff to ensure they get the appropriate response from other local service providers.

This is one of our unique capacity building models that Hi-VisUK will promote across the country.