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Report shows blind people are left without support

Care for blind people has declined by 43%

Jo Carlowe

Tuesday, 10 September 2013

In less than ten years, no blind and partially sighted people will receive any form of care or support from their local council.

This is the finding from the Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB) in its report published today: 'Facing Blindness Alone' which reveals that between 2005 and 2013, there has been a 43% decline in the number of blind and partially sighted people in England getting even the most basic types of council support.

The research, commissioned by RNIB, shows that although care and support has declined for all adults with a physical disability (30%), people with sight loss have been the worse affected (43%).

RNIB's Chief Executive, Lesley-Anne Alexander CBE said: "Every year 23,000 people in England lose their sight. Invariably this has a devastating impact on their lives. Not only does sight loss have a massive emotional impact, but it also means having to re-learn almost every aspect of your life.

"Shockingly people living with sight loss are increasingly losing out whether it is specialist support, rehabilitation or even help with basic activities, such as learning how to cook a meal or going outdoors safely. If you are blind or partially sighted and you have care needs, the prospects of getting council care and support are fast diminishing.

"Being left alone to cope with sight loss is wholly unacceptable. No matter how tight the budgets of Government are, this is essential support which must be provided. The Government needs to act now."

RNIB is calling on the Government to make changes to the Care Bill and ensure:

  • All newly blind and partially sighted people are offered rehabilitation after first being diagnosed;
  • Rehabilitation isn't limited to just six weeks;
  • Longer term care assessments properly recognise the barriers blind and partially sighted people face in remaining independent.

The report reveals that in Essex there are just three rehabilitation officers - fewer than a number of London boroughs despite the population of Essex being four to five times greater than these boroughs. While Northampton is estimated to have 19,000 people living with sight loss, but just one rehabilitation officer in post.

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