Media Release: Free sensory awareness training courses for care home workers

NESS training - blindfolds

A NORTH-east charity is offering free training courses to help improve the care of people in residential care.

North East Sensory Services (NESS), which has offices in Aberdeen, Dundee and Elgin, is holding free sensory awareness training in Aberdeen funded by the Scottish Government’s See Hear strategy.

The courses are specifically aimed at care home, sheltered housing and residential care home staff, who encounter a high proportion of people living with visual and/or hearing impairment.

Begins a spokesperson: “The Scottish Government invested £2 million to implement the new See Hear strategy for sensory impairment – the first of its kind in the UK.

“See Hear sets out seven recommendations for improving services for sensory impaired people in Scotland.

“As part of the review, the Scottish Government reported that sensory impairment was a major factor in falls and subsequent admission to hospital, which is the largest contributory factor to admission to care homes. One in two people over 90 have a significant sight loss*.

“Research carried out revealed a lack of awareness of sensory impairment issues in staff across a range of services, and that can have a direct impact on the appropriateness of care plans for people, and the ability of staff to provide simple but effective solutions.

“Significant sight loss affects over 180,000 people in Scotland and that figure wills double by 2013, the vast majority being older people. According to its See Hear framework document, early identification of sensory loss can have a positive impact on reducing negative outcomes, such as falls and social isolation.”

The spokesperson added: “Hearing and sight loss can be particularly difficult to identify in those with dementia, however a misinterpretation of symptoms could lead to a failure to meet basic physical and mental needs.”

The NESS Sensory Awareness Training programme allows delegates to have a greater understanding of what it is like to live without sight and/or hearing, as well as improving knowledge on the different levels of sensory loss. The interactive sessions, using blindfolds and headphones to simulate visual and hearing impairment, also offer practical advice on how to help a blind or deaf person to get about and be understood.

NESS has also put together basic questionnaires for frontline staff at elderly people’s accommodations to enable them to establish if a sight or hearing loss could be helped by further intervention, such as sight tests, hearing tests or assistive equipment.

Graham Findlay, chief executive of NESS, said: “All too often people will put their sight or hearing loss down to old age, and find ways to cope, which can end up with them feeling isolated and frustrated.

“On average, it takes someone ten years to get help for hearing loss. The See Hear strategy recommends an extension of formal and informal training, with sensory impairment checks built into regular screening and care pathways.

“The NESS sensory awareness training programmes which can take place at our centre in Aberdeen, or delivered at individual premises, enable care workers, families and colleagues to gain a greater understanding of the needs of those with a sensory impairment, and how to help them to lead happy, independent lives.”

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