Occupational Therapy, Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust
Thomas Pocklington Trust
University of Sheffield, IIKE; LIfe Festival; Research Development Service; ScHARR Research Stimulation Prize
Sight loss impacts individual lives in a major way. Sheffield is luckier than most in having sight loss services regarded as well above average. Nonetheless our study has shown even here there were shortcomings – indeed it also ameliorated one – cross service communication.
The EPSRC funded KT-EQUAL programme identified national issues in delivery of care and support to people with sight loss. This spanned adoption of refractive correcting optics to support for more life affecting low vision or full sight loss. A study stimulated by CABOT funding allowed the team to engage with local stakeholders – i.e. NHS and Council service providers, Voluntary and charity providers, and with people with sight loss and family carers to explore the current state of services in Sheffield.
A participatory approach was adopted by the researchers – inviting professionals, third sector and lay people involved in delivering or receiving sight loss services to share their knowledge and experiences with each other and with the researchers. This immediately identified gaps in knowledge of participants of the broader sight loss care pathway. This knowledge sharing had a direct impact on improving awareness – and therefore service connectiveness across the care pathway.
The gaps highlighted issues in people with sight loss journeys in receiving care. It also highlighted the issue that while some of the 700 voluntary organisations had an important role, currently apart from the well-known and highly active, e.g. SRSB and Age Concern, many of the others were believed to be providing support to people with sight loss but unconnected to the care pathway. Connecting them will be challenging.