Throwback Thursday – Dementia and sight loss

Back in 2012 we started work on a 2-year project looking at providing care and support for people living with sight loss and dementia. The findings are still just as relevant today, so here’s a quick reminder of what we did.

What was the issue?

Meeting the social care and support needs of people with concurrent dementia and sight loss can present complex challenges. To address those challenges, care needs to respond to both conditions rather than working in isolation.

What did we do?

The research project used interviews and focus groups to capture the views and experiences of people living with dementia and sight loss, family members, and a range of service providers, commissioners and support planners. Initial findings and guidance were validated at a multi-disciplinary Consensus Event.

What did we find?

Around half the people with dementia and sight loss in the study were not receiving any formal support. Dementia and visual impairment needs tend to be addressed separately, rather than being taken into account together, and early diagnosis of both conditions is crucial to enable planning and preparation for the future and make it easier to access to services. Priority may not be given to regular eye tests, or routine interventions that could dramatically improve levels of independence and quality of life for people with dementia. Many people with dementia and sight loss would also benefit from practitioners sharing skills and expertise and working together.

The following can be helpful to people with both dementia and sight loss:

  • Improved lighting
  • Contrasting colours
  • Familiar environments
  • Support at a time that is appropriate for the individual
  • Ongoing support
  • Access to social and cognitively stimulating activities
  • Continuity of care

What did we recommend?

Services should aim to provide activities that are accessible to people with dementia and sight loss, and there should be a variety of options to meet individual preferences for support. Both conditions must be taken into account and assessments should draw on the expertise of dementia and sensory impairment practitioners. Practical assistance should be provided by familiar staff who are given time to get to know the person they are helping. The overall aim when providing care and support for people with dementia and sight loss should be to preserve independence.

A summary of the findings from this project is also available.

Logos for the partners and supporters of the project

(This independent project was commissioned by the National Institute for Health Research School for Social Care Research. The project ran from July 2012 until January 2014 and was led by the Centre for Housing Policy at the University of York, in collaboration with the Association for Dementia Studies at the University of Worcester, Bournemouth University Dementia Institute (now the Ageing & Dementia Research Centre), and the Cambridge Centre for Housing and Planning Research at the University of Cambridge.)

Connect with ADS on twitter @DementiaStudies and on Facebook @adsuow

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