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Older people’s experiences of sight loss in care homes

It is estimated that as many as half of the 400,000 older people who live in care homes have some form of sight loss (RNIB, 2014). Although there is a growing body of research into the issues of sight loss in older age there remains little which focuses explicitly on the perspectives of older people with sight loss who are living in residential care. The impact of sight loss on physical and psychosocial well-being and older people’s quality of life are not well acknowledged in policy or practice settings. There are currently no statutory requirements for care homes specifically relating to visual impairment. Although needs relating to sight loss relate to the requirement to provide person-centred care, there is no particular mention of visual impairment within the Care Quality Commission (CQC) guidance and eye health indicators are not included in their assessment criteria for care homes.

This study aims to begin to address the gap in evidence by giving a voice to older care home residents with sight loss as well as exploring the perspectives of their relatives and care staff. In particular, it explores questions around how residents with sight loss experience support (or lack of support), how daily routines and the physical environment of the setting contribute (or not) to well-being for residents with sight loss, which aspects of practices within the setting are valued and considered helpful, and how relationships can support living well with sight loss within residential care.

This project was commissioned by Thomas Pocklington Trust (TPT) to address the evidence gap by focusing on the lived experiences of older people with sight loss and their everyday needs within care homes. An extensive review of research on sight loss in care homes was undertaken as part of this study. It has been written up separately to accompany this main report (see Banks and Ward 2016).

The research aims were:

  • To contribute to improved standards of care and practice in residential care for older people living with sight loss.
  • To generate understanding of living in care homes from the lived experiences of older people with sight loss;
  • To gather the views of older people with sight loss, family members, friends and care home staff on good practice in residential care;
  • To produce understanding about good standards of care and practice for older people with sight loss living in care homes and to make recommendations for an agenda for action.