East Lothian and Midlothian Health and Social Care Partnerships (HSCPs) have announced a new service provider for people with sight loss.
On 1 April 2021, Sight Scotland started a contract as the East Lothian and Midlothian Visual Impairment Support Service provider on a three-year contract. The HSCPs appointed Sight Scotland after a full tendering process.
Sight Scotland already has a presence in the Lothians. The charity launched their Sight Scotland Support Line in the region this January. The helpline provides expert advice, practical and emotional support to people with sight loss. The helpline also supports their relatives, carers and friends.
Sight Scotland aims to extend their support to hundreds of people with sight loss in the council areas through the Visual Impairment Support Service. The charity offers tailored support to help people with sight loss adapt to life with visual impairment and maintain independence.
Sight Scotland’s expert rehabilitation team can offer mobility training to help people navigate their homes and outdoors. They can help people to develop skills for day-to-day tasks and support them to get involved with leisure activities. They can also offer training in using equipment and technology.
Anyone aged 16 and over can access the Sight Scotland service's support. The service is open to anyone at any stage of sight loss.
Due to Covid restrictions, Sight Scotland will provide the service via telephone or video calls to begin with. As restrictions ease, this will move to home visits and outdoor mobility training. Sight Scotland’s rehabilitation team will offer face-to-face support then too.
East Lothian Integration Joint Board Chair Peter Murray said: “ELHSCP is looking forward to working with Sight Scotland.
“We put a lot of effort into finding the best provider for the job, including a tendering process in line with Best Value requirements. Sight Scotland met our criteria and more. They have a proven track record of helping people with sight loss achieve the outcomes they want.
“We are keen to link more people with sight loss to the support and advice they want. And it’s great that this support will be there for relatives, carers and friends too.
“I wish Sight Scotland every success and know that they are going to help a lot of people over the next three years.”
Alison White, Chief Social Work Officer, Midlothian HSCP, said: “We are delighted to be working with Sight Scotland going forward. This well established and highly thought of provider shares the same values and commitment as Midlothian HSCP. In partnership, we aim to provide the right care and support, in the right place, at the right time, to all Midlothian residents living with, or affected by, sight loss.”
Mark O’Donnell, Chief Executive of Sight Scotland, said: “We are delighted to be delivering East Lothian and Midlothian Health and Social Care Partnerships’ visual impairment services. Sight Scotland has provided life-changing support, education and learning to people with sight loss for over two centuries. We are looking forward to reaching out to even more people with our provision of the Visual Impairment Support Service.
“Sight loss impacts people in different ways, and we are dedicated to working closely with each individual to provide them with support to help them reach their own goals and maintain their independence.”
To enquire about support from the service, please call 0131 385 7488 or visit sightscotland.org.uk/EdinburghandLothians
East Lothian: John's story
Veteran John Fraser, 56, of Prestonpans, has received specialist support from Sight Scotland’s sister charity, Sight Scotland Veterans, which supports veterans with sight loss across Scotland. Rehabilitation for his sight loss has aided his mobility and enabled him to regain his independence at home.
John is encouraging anyone impacted by sight loss in East Lothian to reach out for specialist support with Sight Scotland and Sight Scotland Veterans.
John Fraser said: “Rehabilitation support for my sight loss has been a godsend for me. When your sight goes your confidence does take a big tumble because you feel very vulnerable, especially when you’re out and about. If you have sight loss, it’s immensely beneficial to get some expert support through services like those of Sight Scotland and Sight Scotland Veterans.
“My sight went in my right eye in 2016. I was told I had an optic nerve stroke. In 2019 my left eye went the same way. Now I can just see shapes, it’s hard to define what objects are. It was like having to start from scratch all over again.
“I’d had some long cane training before joining Sight Scotland Veterans as I’d been tripping over things and feeling disorientated. It helped immensely. My rehabilitation officer is fantastic. She’s helped me with magnification and kitchen aids to get me back into cooking and make me more independent at home again. She’s also helped me with different tips for my long cane and with simple tips and tricks for navigating and crossing the road.
“It’s boosted my confidence to try things and get out and do things for myself – simple things people often take for granted. It’s had a big impact on my life.”
Midlothian: Marjorie's story
Women’s Royal Army Corps veteran Marjorie Paton, 86, of Bonnyrigg, has received specialist support from Sight Scotland’s sister charity, Sight Scotland Veterans, which supports veterans with sight loss across Scotland. Rehabilitation for her sight loss has aided her independence at home and helped her regain much-loved hobbies.
Marjorie is encouraging anyone impacted by sight loss in Midlothian to reach out for specialist support with Sight Scotland and Sight Scotland Veterans.
Marjorie Paton said: “The more people we can get to realise that there is help out there, the better. It’s about getting to know where you can go to get help. I think there are many people out there who are struggling to cope with their eyesight. It will be wonderful for anyone impacted by sight loss in Midlothian to have this support through Sight Scotland, as veterans with sight loss have through Sight Scotland Veterans.
“When I was diagnosed with macular degeneration, I remember I just burst into tears. I felt like that was the end of my world. But with the support of organisations like Sight Scotland Veterans I’ve learned you can still do things with sight loss. My sight is getting bad now, but I can still get out. It won’t defeat me. I’ve learned new skills and am using helpful equipment like talking scales – what a difference that has made to my baking. All these things you don’t know exist until you get some support.
“Recently my rehabilitation officer has helped me with suitable portable lighting and advice to get me back to watercolour painting at home. I was struggling to see the colours. I’m also getting back into sketching again. I’ve gotten used to using my magnifier in the shops now. These changes can be very simple things, but the impact it has and how it helps me is unbelievable.”