This week, I supported a campaign by sight loss charity the Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB) to ensure that everyone diagnosed with sight loss receives practical and emotional support to come to terms with their diagnosis.
I attended a Parliamentary reception hosted by The Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB), and supported by Blind Veterans UK, for the launch of RNIB's new report 'See the need'. The report calls for every eye department in the UK to have access to a sight loss adviser, to support people when they’re told that they’re losing, or have permanently lost, their sight.
Gareth Davies, a Cardiff Central constituent, received support from a Sight Loss Adviser when he was losing his sight, and his story is one of the case studies in the report. I was very pleased to meet Gareth, his wife Rhiannon, and Head of RNIB Cymru Ceri Jackson, at the reception.
With many eye departments currently at full capacity due to our ageing population, and demand for services set to increase, ophthalmologists lack the time they’d like to provide support.
Sight loss advisers can provide advice on everything from remaining in employment, to becoming more independent around the home, and reducing the risk of falls while out in the street environment. Research has also revealed that they can save significant amounts of money for health and social care budgets.
Failure to provide timely advice and support at the point of diagnosis can prevent people from leading fulfilling lives at home, at work, and in the community. Sight loss advisers can help people to develop the skills and confidence that they need to live independently. RNIB’s research found that 87 per cent of patients who had seen a sight loss adviser felt that they had been provided with the practical support needed to live with sight loss.
It is vital that blind and partially sighted people receive quality, timely support when they’re diagnosed with sight loss. Without the right support available, people can be left isolated, and unable to live independently.
I am therefore supporting RNIB’s campaign for every eye department to have access to a sight loss adviser.