Enforced isolation: a study of the needs of dual sensory impaired people living in Leicestershire

2017-10-09T15:45:06Z (GMT) by Beryl H. Palmer
In 1989, a report entitled Breaking Through highlighted the failure of Local Authorities to address the needs of deafblind people, about whom little is known. This study aimed to identify dual sensory impaired people in Leicestershire, and to examine the needs of adults and older dual sensory impaired people in the light of existing theory, knowledge, policy and service provision. A two stage approach was adopted. The first stage .comprised of a quantitative survey; a screening sheet was devised to identify individuals and widely distributed amongst local statutory and voluntary agencies and advertised to the public. A total of 1462 people were identified. This figure is equivalent to 169 per 100,000, over four times higher than earlier local studies had found. The majority were over 75 years of age, adventitiously impaired and relied on residual hearing and sight for communication. These findings challenge the stereotype of a deafblind person and point to changes in epidemiology in recent years. The second stage comprised of a qualitative survey of 24 adults and older dual sensory impaired people. Interviewees were asked about their daily difficulties and about their use of health and social care services. They were found to be an extremely heterogeneous group with very varied life experiences and situations. However several common themes emerged including the need for improved access to information, employment (for adults), education, social and leisure activities, and general community facilities. Some experienced lives devoid of meaningful activity and quite severe isolation. They were disadvantaged by the medical model and single sensory approach of health and social care service providers. On the basis of the findings a series of suggestions to improve current health and social care service provision were made. These included improvements to mainstream services such as adopting an empowering approach, recognising the existence of dual sensory impaired people, undertaking health promotion work, adopting a care management approach, undertaking staff training, improving co-ordination, and ensuring access to all services. In addition, the need to develop some specialist local resources was identified.