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Sensory Impairment Services
Both hearing and vision impairment increase with age, with a marked rise over 60 years. This, taken with the current predictions about population age changes in Highland over the next 20 years, points to future challenges in meeting the needs of older people with needs arising from loss of hearing, of vision, or the combination of both – deafblindness.
Partnership working in Highland is well established, shown by the work of the Co-ordinating Sub-committee on Services for Deaf and Hard of Hearing People. In 2002 this body formed the working group charged with preparing this strategy plan for services for those with sensory needs.
This document can be seen, as a response to the initiatives of the Scottish Executive in advancing the planning of services for those with sensory needs, beginning with the influential report, ‘Sensing Progress’, 1998, and recently with, ‘Community Care Services for people with a Sensory Impairment – An Action Plan’, 2003, which has now set up an implementation process.
As the Working Group has progressed in the past year it has become clear that there is a considerable challenge in preparing a single strategy to cover a scattered population with diverse needs, covering the large landmass of the Highlands. Nevertheless, this challenge has been recognised and has helped shape the recommendations on service provision, how these are to be implemented and by whom
It has been acknowledged that the lessons emerging from the work of the Group may not be easily applied in other areas of Scotland. However the suggested methods of service provision can serve as a model to be considered and modified by other service providers elsewhere.
But plans are one thing, and actions another. It can be seen from the report that the first action of the Group was to find out what was available in Highland and what needed to change. This led to a statement of aims, methods of achieving these and the likely benefits for people with sensory needs.
People have very individual needs across the sensory spectrum and the major challenges are in addressing communication, mobility and information needs. The extent of these challenges require a united front on the part of service providers in Highland which will make the best use possible of resources and bring about change. This is our main focus within the action plan.
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