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“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.

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.

Acquired Communication Disorders training demand

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Our OCN Level 2 course in Acquired Communications Disorders continues to show no signs of a decrease in interest. Care providers tell us there is nothing like this training anywhere else and that it is filling a huge gap in their understanding, confidence and skills – especially when combined with our highly practical and concise Hi-VisUK deafblindness training.

I didn’t know there was so much I could do!

Our training courses seem to be plugging a large gap in awareness of deafblindness in older people, “I didn’t realise there were so many tools I could use”.  Participants are finding the mix of theory and practical makes the learning highly accessible “Extremely informative, full of useful scenarios”.

The confidence gained in our training is showing through feedback from participants: “I have learnt a lot and I will go out and show as many as I can what I have learnt”‘ “I feel that if a deafblind visitor came into our centre I would be more confident in approaching them for the first time than I have been because of practising the block alphabet”.

“I will use this tomorrow with my Grandad!”

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Our highly practical Deafblind courses give participants a uniquely rounded understanding of the role and the skills required when guiding a deafblind person. After our training, not only can you say what a communicator guide is but you can do it too! The day builds on our deafblindness awareness foundation course that participants need to do before they can enrol onto this course.

Participants particularly enjoy the challenge of guiding and of being guided blindfold or wearing sight-loss simulation glasses! Navigating around a room, up and down stairs, in and out of doors, sitting at a dinner table and getting into a car – such a lot to learn you may think but the feedback says: “Enjoyed it all day!” “Very good”, “I can use all I have learned straight away”, “The training I had getting a deafblind person into a car I will use tomorrow with my Grandad who is deafblind”.

Understanding and supporting older people with Acquired Communication Disorders

Our unique Acquired Communication Disorders OCN Level 2 course looks at a range of disorders that can affect older people. Led by two qualified speech and language specialists, the feedback is good:

“Informative but not overloading”, “Great content!”, “Well delivered course”. “Ideas for communication were useful, I could use them with one client who would benefit”.

Participants learned about types of communication disorder acquired in older age. For example the various types of aphasia and dysarthia plus their impacts on speech and language. They then looked at useful communication aids and practical approaches.

Creating awareness

Our Foundation course in deafblindeness awareness is proving to be really popular with a wide range of people. Particpants come from a broad range of organisations in the community, including care service providers from private, public and voluntary sectors.

Feedback is positive: “I enjoyed the whole course”, “I found it all very interesting”, I enjoyed learning about the obstacles a deafblind person faces in every day life”, “Am looking forward to your other training”, “Gained knowledge and guidance around different types of deafblindness”, Comprehensive outline of deafblindness that I feel I can put in to action at work and in my own life tomorrow”, “Lots of learning styles catered for!”,

Brian’s story

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Brian took early retirement a couple of years ago. Volunteering for Brian provides him with something to do that is stimulating, but above all else, means he can “help others make the most of their lives.” At the local association where he volunteers Brian drives the minibus for the activities group and sits on their funding committee. Brian heard about our training:

“I was interested partly because I was intrigued about the situation facing a deafblind adult. I then did your training in deafblind awareness and guiding which opened my eyes.”

“You seldom come across disability. Like many people I thought being blind meant having no sight at all, being deaf meant you could not hear anything. What grabbed my attention was the wide range of abilities that visually impaired people have despite their condition. What has been so rewarding has been the way people respond to your help. Doing this work makes you realise how many barriers there are for blind, deaf, and perhaps even more for deafblind people.”

“The training has broadened my mind and made me reflect on the things that could cause issues or make communication more difficult. I have learnt not to assume and that every blind, deaf, deafblind person is the same.”