Concerns blind people in Plymouth are not getting enough help
A CHARITY has called on councils to act now to stop the costs of dealing with blind and partially sighted people from rocketing.
People with vision problems are on the verge of tipping from "just managing" into "not coping", the Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB) warns.
Many could end up spiralling into ill-health, isolation and depression if local authorities don't make small but significant changes, the RNIB says.
Plymouth had 1,170 registered blind or partially sighted people last year. Nationally the number is expected to rise to more than 2.25million people by 2020.
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A report by the RNIB warns that if action isn't taken now the costs to local services for health and social care could rocket. It says the council should ensure that blind and partially sighted people are at the centre of any decision-making which affects their lives and view them as expert voices.
The council can save money by sending information in the right format – like large print, audio or braille – the first time, and not having to send the same information twice.
Some local authorities are already finding practical solutions, which they often deliver in partnership with voluntary organisations. The RNIB praised Plymouth City Council for its six-week course to give people newly diagnosed with sight loss individually tailored, practical and emotional support.
Cllr Sue McDonald, Plymouth Cabinet member for public health and adult social care, said: "We are doing excellent work to help visually impaired people, with the emphasis on meeting their needs.
"We commission a wide range of services. We are helping people to live independently for as long as possible and helping them link in with council, health, voluntary and community services from the moment they are diagnosed.
"The RNIB report highlights the good practice in Plymouth and we will review its national recommendations so we ensure we continue to provide the best possible service."