Not for the OPTiC project but before we talk about the next stage, we are delighted to share the following project outcomes:
What OPTiC has achieved
- Over 34,400 older people have been offered health advice and screening.
- Over 3,100 older people with sight loss have engaged with support.
- Over 1,020 older people with sight loss have a better understanding of their eye condition and eye health.
- Over 700 older people with sight loss have been supported by peers in groups or by buddies.
- Over 600 older people with sight loss have stated that they feel more able to cope with the challenges of sight loss.
- Over 1,110 older people have stated they are more aware of the range of support available.
- 60 older people have been engaged as buddies, volunteers and group leaders.
- 76 older people with sight loss have been involved in self-advocacy groups.
- Over 250 older people have stated they have improved levels of confidence and self-esteem and are less socially isolated.
Based on feedback from our Beneficiary Action Group (BAG), we also:
- Installed a teleconferencing facility at the offices of Action for Blind People office in Stafford which will enable blind and partially sighted people to support each other via the phone and in particular those unable to leave their home.
- Funded the purchase of technological devices for hands on ‘taster’ training sessions – three of which have been held to date.
- Delivered a 2 day training course for 8 older people with sight loss to develop skills to support the facilitation of future empowerment programmes and peer support activities.
Let’s Talk Sustainability
The strong working partnership of Action for Blind People, Age UK Stafford and District, Staffordshire and North Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Services and York Blind and Partially Sighted Society will continue to identify, refer and support blind and partially sighted people in Staffordshire and York. Going forward:
- Networks set up by beneficiaries to provide peer support and share knowledge will continue to be supported by volunteers.
- OPTiC beneficiaries will continue to be supported through local services provided by Action for Blind People and Age UK Stafford and District.
- Partnership working and the two-way referral system will continue with the Eye Clinic Liaison Officer (ECLO) at York Hospital.
- Local people with sight loss will be provided with IT ‘taster’ training sessions established at Action for Blind People in Stafford.
- Local people with sight loss will be able to run activities such as book clubs or audio virtual tours using the OPTiC teleconferencing system purchased solely for this purpose.
- Empowerment programmes and peer groups will continue in both Stafford and York with input from beneficiaries who have been trained through OPTiC.
- Volunteers and buddies will continue to offer their time.
Reaching our target audience
OPTiC has been highly effective in reaching our target audience as clearly demonstrated in our outcomes. Our partnership with the Staffordshire Fire and Rescue Service and their Home Fire Risk Checks enabled us to reach the very people we would otherwise not have had access to.
As previously reported in this blog, engaging with local older people from BME, faith and LGBT communities has proved problematic throughout the project. A major learning curve is that partnership working with community elders and local faith organisations is pivotal to successfully engaging people with sight loss from said communities. Promoting support services through dedicated media channels (i.e. local radio, dedicated publications) is also a key factor.
Overcoming key challenges
There have been a number of challenges during the project and which were addressed by:
- Upgrading the IT system to expedite the referral process between partners.
- Providing refresher training for the Fire Service Technicians on conversing with people about sight loss which in turn proved effective in raising the number of people agreeing to eye screening and referral.
- Promoting the OPTiC range of support services through tailored presentations to local health care meetings and linking with local clubs, coffee mornings, retirement homes, sheltered housing facilities and other gatherings dedicated supporting older people which created a step-change in the number of older people engaging with support.
- Firm and lasting relationships between the Fire and Rescue teams in each area have been formed and referrals will continue, post project.
- The Fire and Rescue teams have committed to continue handing out eye health information.
- Fire and Rescue volunteers have been trained to use the eyes right screening tool and will continue to use it in elements of their work.
- Beneficiaries will continue to use equipment and resources developed/purchased through the project.
The OPTiC Partnership would like to thank all the staff, volunteers and partner organisations who have worked so diligently to make this initiative such a success. We would also like to thank the BIG Lottery for providing us with the means to reach and support so many people with sight loss and finally, and most importantly, our beneficiaries for making the last eighteen months such a positive experience for those involved.