New Guides Launched To Support Adults With Sensory Disabilities

The Department of Health has launched two new guides to support adults with sensory disabilities in Northern Ireland.

The new resources, termed 'care pathways', outline the expected care and treatment that users, including individuals who are deaf, have hearing loss or tinnitus, and those experiencing sight loss or vision difficulties, can anticipate from professionals and support organisations.

These pathways are designed to facilitate easier access to necessary assistance by providing a structured journey from referral and diagnosis through assessment, treatment and onward to community support and specialised services.

Health Minister Mike Nesbitt said: "The pathways provide clear directions towards the support and information users might need so they get the help they need in a timely way. They will also ensure that health and care professionals deliver a consistent and standardised approach to managing care.

"The collective goal is to ensure that individuals, families and carers are at the heart of the process to support people with sensory disabilities, and that all assessments of service needs are person centred and comprehensive."
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The guides were developed in partnership with users and their families and were distributed by the Regional Sensory Impairment Group. This group coordinates efforts among users, community and voluntary sector organisations, as well as health and social care professionals, with the aim of improving services and support for individuals with sensory disabilities.

Robert Shilliday, Country Director for RNIB in Northern Ireland said: "It is very positive that the sight loss pathway, embeds and reflects the importance of the support provided by RNIB Eye Care Liaison Officers (ECLOSs), by the wider range of RNIB services, and by our voluntary and community sector colleagues. Additionally, that these supports are available from the very earliest stages of the patient journey.

"We value the importance of placing the patient, their family, and carers, at the centre of the pathway, and are delighted to see that this has been reflected. It is also to be welcomed that the Department has worked closely with us, to ensure that the guides will be available in a range of accessible formats for blind and partially sighted people."

Jackie White, RNID Associate Director for Localities, welcomed the publication as a 'valuable resource' for people who are deaf, have tinnitus or hearing loss in Northern Ireland. Jackie said: "We support people every day who have questions about their own care pathway and what will happen next. It is therefore really helpful to have this information in one place and in a user-friendly format too. Hopefully people will feel more informed and empowered about the support available to them as a result of this pathway."

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