As a practitioner, the last time you saw someone with a sight loss-related condition, such as age-related macular degeneration (AMD), where did you signpost them to and what support did you offer them beyond the consulting room?
The need for signposting people to support organisations, like Blind Veterans UK, is vital. Of the 4000 veterans the charity currently supports, we know that almost a quarter battled severe sight loss for six years or more before they found out about Blind Veterans UK. As a charity, we want to reach more veterans with sight loss much earlier on in their journeys, ideally from the point of diagnosis.
When someone receives a sight-loss diagnosis, or is already battling severe vision loss, knowing how to access specialist services and support is very important. It can mean the difference between someone sitting at home feeling unable to leave the house, to feeling confident about being able to live a full, independent life.
Yet there are still currently tens of thousands of veterans in the UK battling severe sight loss who are not aware of the support available to them through organisations such as Blind Veterans UK. That’s why we need the help of practitioners to raise awareness.
"Blind Veterans UK ensures that each individual and their family has the support they require to adjust to life with sight loss"
From the provision of equipment, such as a liquid-level indicator to help someone make a cup of tea for themselves or a magnifier so that they can read the newspaper, to training, and mobility and emotional support from professionals – these are just some of the aspects of support that can make a life-changing difference to these veterans.
Blind Veterans UK is a national charity for blind- and vision-impaired ex-Service men and women, providing them with a wide range of practical and emotional support, no matter how they lost their sight or when they served. We support veterans of all ages, from veterans who served in the Second World War or did National Service and are now suffering with age-related sight loss, to veterans who were injured in recent conflicts. Healthcare professionals are well placed to be identifying vision impaired veterans, regardless of their age and cause of sight loss, and referring them to Blind Veterans UK – that’s why we need your help.
Whether it’s help at home, support in the community or providing training or holidays away at one of the charity’s three UK centres, Blind Veterans UK ensures that each individual and their family has the support they require to adjust to life with vision impairment.
The next time you come across a patient with severe vision loss, simply ask them if they have a service history, and if they do, speak to them about the work of Blind Veterans UK and how to get in touch with us. It’s as simple as asking, ‘Did you ever serve in the Armed Forces or do National Service?’
For more information, call 0800 389 7979 or visit the No One Alone campaign website.
Nicky Shaw is director of welfare (west) at Blind Veterans UK.
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