On 1 April 2021, sight loss charities Sight Scotland and Visibility Scotland started contracts as the new providers of Edinburgh Health and Social Care Partnership’s (EHSCP) visual impairment services as the charities set out on extending their support to hundreds more people in the city.
Sight Scotland will deliver EHSCP’s Visual Impairment Adult Rehabilitation and Mobility Service under a three-year contract. The service provision has transferred over from the Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB).
The service offers tailored support for people with sight loss, helping individuals to adapt to life with sight loss and maintain and build independence. This includes mobility training to enable safe and independent navigation at home or out and about; support to develop skills for carrying out day-to-day tasks like cooking independently and engaging with leisure activities; and training in utilising equipment and digital technology for independent living.
The service is available to anyone with sight loss aged 16 and upwards at any stage of sight loss, and their families and carers. Under current pandemic restrictions, Sight Scotland’s expert rehabilitation team will offer assessments and support remotely via telephone and video calls. The charity plans to offer home visits, outdoor mobility training and face-to-face support at community hubs in Edinburgh when Scottish Government restrictions allow.
Sight Scotland has also been appointed to manage the statutory Certificate of Vision Impairment (CVI) Register on behalf of the City of Edinburgh Council.
In January this year, Sight Scotland launched its Sight Scotland Support Line in Edinburgh and the Lothians – a freephone helpline providing expert advice and practical and emotional support to people with sight loss as well as relatives, carers and friends. The helpline and EHSCP contract are features of the Sight Scotland’s Community Services as the charity strives to support even more people with sight loss and their families in Scotland.
Visibility Scotland will provide EHSCP’s Eye Clinic Patient Support Service for Edinburgh’s Princess Alexandra Eye Pavilion, delivering face-to-face or virtual support from the clinic to all Eye Pavilion patients over the age of 16. The service will provide patients with dedicated time following their clinical appointment to share any concerns they have about living with sight loss. It will also act as a bridge between the clinic and community-based services, connecting patients with other local and national organisations and creating a seamless pathway of service provision.
Visibility Scotland’s Patient Support Workers will provide both emotional and practical support to patients at what can be a very challenging time. They will help individuals find practical solutions to living with sight loss, supporting them to reach their goals and maintain independence. The Patient Support Workers can provide information on eye conditions, strategies to make the most of remaining vision, equipment and assistive technology demonstrations, a listening ear and direct referrals to other organisations and services.
Visibility Scotland have launched an Edinburgh information and referral line which can be used by professionals, patients, family members and carers.
Sight Scotland and Visibility Scotland will work closely together with social work locality teams to deliver these essential services for people living with a visual impairment in Edinburgh.
Judith Proctor, Chief Officer of the Edinburgh Health and Social Care Partnership, said: “Edinburgh Health and Social Care Partnership is delighted to have awarded the contracts of our sight loss services to Sight Scotland and Visibility Scotland. We are confident that the new providers will make a huge contribution to our vision of a caring, healthier and safer Edinburgh.
“We have already been laying the groundwork with both organisations to deliver a seamless, flexible and high quality service to Edinburgh citizens living with sight loss. Our locality teams will now work closely with Sight Scotland and Visibility Scotland to support people with a vision impairment, and their carers, and help them achieve the outcomes they want in their lives.”
Mark O’Donnell, Chief Executive of Sight Scotland, said: “We are delighted to be working in partnership with Visibility Scotland to deliver Edinburgh Health and Social Care Partnership’s visual impairment services. Sight Scotland has provided life-changing support, education and learning to people with sight loss for over two centuries and we are looking forward to reaching out to even more people with our provision of the Visual Impairment Adult Rehabilitation and Mobility Services. 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.”
Laura Walker, Chief Executive of Visibility Scotland, said: “Visibility Scotland provides innovative and person centred services to people living with a visual impairment across Scotland. We are absolutely delighted to work in partnership with EHSCP Visual Impairment Services and Sight Scotland. Visibility Scotland have designed and delivered Patient Support Services for over 19 years and we are very excited to join the team at Edinburgh’s Princess Alexandra Eye Pavilion.”
To enquire about support from the Visual Impairment Adult Rehabilitation and Mobility Service, please call 0131 385 7488, email email@example.com or visit sightscotland.org.uk/EdinburghandLothians
To enquire about the Patient Support Service, please call 0131 378 1874, email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.visibilityscotland.org.uk
Army veteran Edward Rushworth, 91, of Edinburgh, 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 independence.
Edward is encouraging anyone impacted by sight loss in Edinburgh to reach out for specialist support with organisations like Sight Scotland, Sight Scotland Veterans and Visibility Scotland.
Edward said: “My sight loss started with glaucoma. I’m now effectively blind in my right eye and have lost around 20 percent of my sight in my left eye.
“One of Sight Scotland Veterans’ rehabilitation officers assisted me with some cane training before the pandemic set in. She supported me to try different canes with an assessment and gave me some terrific extensive training with the long cane, including advice for things like crossing the road, which made me feel very confident with it. She was so specific and thorough, it was fantastic. I don’t use my long cane all the time, but I will take it out with me occasionally in case of trip hazards and I’m happy to be able to use it. It does give me some independence back.
“It is very beneficial to do rehabilitation training and pick up new skills to help you adapt to life with sight loss. I’d encourage people to reach out for this support.”