First Minister highlights impact of sight loss at opening of specialist home

Press Release | 28/03/2018

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has highlighted the issue of sight loss experienced by hundreds of thousands of older people in Scotland.

The First Minister conducted the official opening of Jenny’s Well, a new care home in Paisley run by Scotland’s largest vision impairment charity, Royal Blind, which this year celebrates its 225th anniversary.

Jenny’s Well is only the second specialist care home for sight loss in Scotland, with Royal Blind’s Braeside House in Edinburgh being the first, and has been designed specifically to meet the needs of vision impaired older people.

Residents at Braeside House were involved in planning the design of Jenny’s Well to ensure it provides the best environment possible. This includes a sensory garden, specialist lighting to reduce glare, tactile signage, and access to specialist equipment.

Chief Executive Mark O'Donnell greets the First MinisterThere are around 188,000 people living in Scotland with significant sight loss, around three-quarters of whom are over 65. Sight loss is projected to double over the next two decades in Scotland, to almost 400,000.

The first resident of Jenny’s Well, Josie Lewis, is 98 years old and she said of moving into Jenny’s Well:

“I have lived a good life, but in the last few years my health has let me down and I’ve needed to stay in care homes as I have macular degeneration, hearing difficulties, a heart condition and diabetes. Moving into a care home with expertise in sight loss has made a big difference to my care and I am very happy at Jenny’s Well.”

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said:

“I was delighted to officially open Jenny’s Well, meet Josie and some of the new residents, as well as the Royal Blind staff who are taking such good care of them. 

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon sits with Jenny's Well resident, Josie Lewis

“Through our ‘See Hear’ strategy, we are taking action to improve services, care and support for people in Scotland with sight loss, supported by almost £500,000 funding in the current year.

“The strategy recognises the impact of blindness on people’s lives and I commend Royal Blind for their important work in this area, as signalled by the opening of Jenny’s Well.

“With an increasing number of older people in Scotland experiencing sight loss, I would encourage anyone with concerns, either for themselves or a family member, to ensure they take advantage of the free sight tests available on the NHS and seek advice from health and social care professionals.”

Chief Executive of Royal Blind Mark O’Donnell said: “We are delighted that in our 225th year Royal Blind has been able to officially open this specialist new care home for older people with sight loss, and that the First Minister has joined us for this occasion.

“We hope in the future to work alongside care providers and others with expertise in sight loss to share learning and raise awareness of how best to support vision impaired older people. Identifying when an older person has sight loss and ensuring they have the tailored care they need can have a big impact on their quality of life.

“More and more of us will be living with sight loss in the future. One in eight over-75s and one in three over-90s have serious sight loss. However, too often people are struggling on without getting their sight tested and are missing out on the support they need.  

“We are pleased the First Minister joined us today to highlight how older people with sight loss can benefit from the right support and the need to encourage more older people to get their sight tested.”