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.

Feedback on our training

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Great to see ongoing positive feedback from our training participants. We learn a lot from our courses through our interactions with participants who come from a wide cross-section of the health care and social care fields.

Colleagues from the fields of sensory loss support and acquired communications disorders are always generous in their sharing of experience and expertise whilst on our courses – thanks to all!

Click HERE to watch the latest video feedback, courtesy of our partners at SCIE.

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.

Supporting World Mental Health Day

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Hi-VisUK will continue to support World Health Day in the coming years. Last year our sister project, In Good Hands, attended World Mental Health Day celebrations in Hartlepool. This is part of our ongoing development of strategic and practical links in the borough as part of a planned Hi-VisUK & Hartlepool Borough Council (HBC) collaboration.

Making every contact count

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Hi-VisUK will be taking on the baton from our sister project In Good Hands to Make Every Contact Help in the health services arena. This provides a great opportunity to strengthen Hi-VisUK links with a wide range of health and wellbeing stakeholders, everyone from local authority meals services to community fire safety services.

Raising our profile

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To be successful at Hi-VisUK we will constantly work to raise our profile at a local and regional level (as well as nationally). Opportunity to talk with other local disability organisations, national manufacturers and suppliers of aids and equipment is one part of a complex jigsaw of supporting organisations – who all need to know more about age acquired deafblindness. It is also an opportunity to meet older people with deafblindness who visited such events as photographed above.

The most vital step

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Hi-VisUK is a highly ambitious charity that, amongst other aims, is working to increase the number of older people with dual sensory loss or deafblindness requesting and receiving a specialist deafblind assessment. This is no easy task and yet it is the most vital step.

Trying to reach older people with age acquired deafblindness is a significant challenge despite the numbers. The vast majority of older people likely to have this devastating condition, those aged 50 years and above, do not see themselves as deafblind. Department of Health (DH) describes this in its Care Act policy guidance (2014) when it acknowledges “many people do not define themselves as either deafblind or having dual sensory loss.”

There are several issues and challenges in recognising deafblindness in older people. For example there are older people receiving social service care who are not identified as deafblind. DH explains: “this could be because an assessment was carried out when only one sense was affected or because both senses have deteriorated since the care package (including residential care) has started.” Other impairments including those that are often associated with ageing “may mask the deafblindness.”

This presents a nationwide picture where age-acquired deafblindness really is a Cinderella condition. This despite it currently affecting an estimated 600,000 older people. Government estimates 40/100,000 people have the condition in this country but this is likely to be closer to 572/100,000 according to one research report (Emerson, E, SENSE 2010). By 2035 the numbers of older people with deafblindness are set to rise by 60% within main population trends as people live longer lives (CeDR 2010, ONS 2012).