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New funding for sight loss project

Avenues has been awarded new funding to continue its work to address sight loss among the people it supports.

The grant from Health Education England follows the evaluation of a pilot project run with the Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB) last year, which trained staff as vision champions.

The training centres on how sight loss and common eye conditions affect people with learning disabilities.

The RNIB Vision Champion Toolkit is then introduced, which aims to empower staff to support people with learning disabilities and behaviours that challenge to access eye care services.

Project lead Sarah Kean explained: “Sight loss for people with learning disabilities is often not recognised, but people with learning disabilities are 10 times more likely to have visual impairment.

“Also, visual impairment is often a factor in challenging behaviour, so it’s important to establish a baseline relating to vision for all people with learning disabilities and to take into account any changes in vision when assessing the causes of challenging behaviour. Addressing sight loss is an essential part of providing high quality person centred support.

“Employees who started the training without the confidence to support people with complex needs and sight loss all said they now feel confident providing this support. Feedback from focus groups also showed that the training has had a positive impact in services and on the lives of the people we support.”

Through the funding Avenues will be able to work with RNIB to train 90 vision champions across its services in the south east.