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Visual impairment and poor eye health is frequently ignored in care homes impacting on quality of life and independence for older people.

This evidence review, published with the support of Thomas Pocklington Trust, examines the current situation in care homes in England, reviewing current practice of sight testing and the regulatory and legislative context of eye health. It highlights that existing policy does not explicitly promote eye health, and how combined with low awareness of sight loss, this has led to poor levels of the detection of eye problems in care home residents.

Care home residents are at a high risk of poor eye health, with estimates of up to half of this group having some form of visual impairment. Furthermore with at least two-thirds of all people living in care homes with dementia and with some forms of dementia increasing the likelihood of having an eye problem, the need to diagnose and target improved eye care and health for this group is imperative.

Good eye health practice in care homes is far from consistent; with eye indicators overlooked in general health checks and low awareness of the issue among care home staff, families and residents themselves. This evidence review examines key issues and proposes solutions for relevant parties and within policy frameworks for sight testing in care homes.

ILC-UK have highlighted a number of key recommendations arising from this review including:

- The creation of a national awareness campaign on the issue of sight loss in older people with different cross-sections of stakeholders.

- The inclusion of specific eye health indicators into CQC assessment criteria and as part of care home providers’ key performance indicators.

- Further research into the barriers to good eye health practices for care home workers, managers and providers should be conducted to explore the impact of sight testing restrictions on access to sight testing for people living in care homes.

 

Authors: Jessica Watson, Sally-Marie Bamford

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