Pan-Ayrshire approach to sensory impairment launched
Ayrshire and Arran will have fully integrated services for people with sight and hearing loss.
In a plan launched this week, North Ayrshire, East Ayrshire and South Ayrshire Councils will join forces with the health board and voluntary organisations to offer a more accessible service.
It is hoped the idea could revolutionise services in the region and be a blueprint for developments elsewhere in Scotland.
Eddie Fraser, director of health and social care for East Ayrshire Council, who has led the development, said the plan will enable a single point of access and clearer referral pathways. “As well as integrating services for people with sight and hearing loss, we want to include a stronger focus on prevention and enablement, and community-based provision,” he said.
A huge upsurge in the numbers living with sensory impairment in the region is expected, with a projected increase of 50 per cent in people suffering hearing loss over the next 20 years. Numbers with sight loss are expected to double.
This is mainly due to the ageing population, with the numbers of over-65s in the area expected to increase from 19 to 30 per cent of the total population.
The new plan will see increased involvement of the third sector, although ultimate responsibility for care will remain with the statutory sector.
John Legg, director of the Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB) Scotland, said: “With this plan, Ayrshire and Arran could set the blueprint for how sensory services are delivered in Scotland. We welcome the commitment in this plan to ensure they are no longer regarded as passive recipients of care but active participants in shaping provision to their individual needs.”
Delia Henry, director of Action on Hearing Loss Scotland, said: “It is crucial people with hearing loss have the necessary support at every stage of their lives. One of the major concerns for people with hearing loss is the sense of isolation that they face.”