9 months has certainly whizzed by for the Silver Dream Team but with our Partnership intact and the welcome addition of the North Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service to the team, we look forward to more project successes (and challenges!) but making a difference most of all.
The OPTiC Effect
- 80% of the UK’s 2 million people with sight loss are over 60. Research shows that many more have undetected conditions that will cause sight loss if untreated but many remain unknown to health and social care services (RNIB 2009). Partnership working has enabled OPTiC to reach and provide support to older people with sight loss in Staffordshire and York, and our Finding Your Feet Empowerment courses have had a particularly positive impact on beneficiaries taking part. The two day programme comprising of practical, nutritional, technological and emotional support and information has proved highly successful with beneficiaries and carers, who are also encouraged to attend. Everyone gets the opportunity to talk to and share knowledge with peers which for some has led to wider social opportunities. Comments from Stafford and York course programmes include:
“The course was very interesting and well organised. Everyone participated and there was a wide variety of topics. I very much enjoyed the Nutritional one and especially the computer software programme which I’ve downloaded myself and now using it. I downloaded it the night I got home”
“(I am) more optimistic about the future“
“Good to talk about emotional problems and needs I have in this situation. The emotional side is very hard – difficult to know what to do“
“Amazed at the wide range of support opportunities”
“(The course) answered most of the problems that I have encountered.
We are now aiming to run as many empowerment courses as possible during the lifecycle of the project.
- OPTiC is steadily becoming sustainable as we focus on contributing knowledge, experience and support to ensure beneficiaries have the tools they need to manage and control their own lives, and contribute towards making a difference to the lives of others.
Spreading the OPTiC word
- Marketing and publicity activities have gone well to date via the use of a range of mediums. These include the production of promotional materials aimed at encouraging older people or organisations’ working with older people to participate; tailored presentations for meetings and conferences; a worldwide radio broadcast; articles in York Press and RNIB Vision magazine (daily readership of over 75,000 and monthly readership of 14,000 respectively) and a podcast produced in collaboration with Silver Dream project Health, Wealth and Happiness that will be disseminated to eye health and healthcare professionals countrywide.
Reaching our target audience
OPTiC is successfully reaching older people with unsupported sight loss. The project has yet to engage significant numbers of people from BME, faith and LGBT communities but opportunities to do so are under review.
Overcoming key challenges
- Recruitment delays of key project staff and lower than estimated take up of the screening test at the beginning of the project have been the main challenges. The knock-on effect was the late setup and running of our clubs and empowerment courses. In resolution, job posts were re-advertised and Fire and Rescue Technicians were provided with refresher training including tips on how to clearly convey the support services on offer and encourage older people to participate. Key posts are now filled, the number of people engaging with OPTiC is steadily increasing and we are en route to achieving our objectives.
- Through increased knowledge of sight loss and use of the eyesight screening tool, Staffordshire Fire and Rescue Technicians have identified and referred a small number of younger people with unsupported sight loss to the appropriate specialist services.
Flagship Grant update
- A bid has been submitted for the Flagship grant. Our Partnership is passionate about facilitating the OPTiC support programme in other areas of the UK and Flagship OPTiC will meet all three of the Lottery’s funding outcomes. Getting this grantwill enable us to reach many more isolated older people living with unsupported sight loss.
Additional funding and OPTiC branding
- Additional funders have not been actively sought to date but this may change going forward if learning from the project dictates adaptations to OPTiC necessitating extra funding.
- The acronym of our project name, in purple, forms the basis of our brand. We also use positive images of older people.