Visionary and the RNIB are working in partnership to ensure that people living with sight loss are aware of the range of services available to support them, especially those provided by local sight loss organisations. This work pre-dates the emergence of COVID-19, however the major disruption COVID-19 restrictions brought to sight loss services saw a significant shift to telephone helplines as being sources of information and support – something both Visionary members and the RNIB are acutely aware of. Restrictions also saw virtually all ECLO provision halt across the UK, and ECLO’s are a key opportunity to raise people’s awareness of local sight loss organisations services.
Earlier this year in March-May Visionary asked members about services they were providing during COVID-19 and also if they held the register. A key aspect of this work is that it enabled Visionary to ensure that RNIB services, their helplines and ECLO’s were aware of what local sight loss organisation (LSLO) services are available and contact details to make referrals. Since April this year the RNIB now monitor the levels of referrals and signposting to LSLO’s made by their ECLO and advice/helpline services. With the monitoring now in its second quarter (July to September) we can reflect upon changes:
- RNIB ECLO provision recommenced in scale during this monitoring period contributing significantly to an increase in activity of 53%.
- ECLO Signpost to LSLO increased by 47% to 2803
- ECLO Referrals to LSLO increased by 82% to 780
- Advice Line and Helpline Signposts/Referrals to LSLO rose by 36% to 480 over the previous period. However in real terms this actually represents a slight drop of 7% with regards to callers to RNIB advice/helplines agreeing signposting or referral to a LSLO. Over the same period a further 1070 callers were offered further information about local services but did not want the information at that time.
The RNIB and Visionary are pleased to be working together on this monitoring information and its analysis continues to be developed. A third quarter (Oct – Dec 2020) of monitoring information, during which ECLO provision and other services should have stabilised further, will better enable any trends or areas for further investigation to be identified.