Our Strategy for 2018-2023
Deafblind UK has a proud history spanning 90 years. Despite the passing of time, the same things matter to people with deafblindness today as they did 90 years ago and Deafblind UK continues to offer the same support today.
We are incredibly proud of our heritage but equally ambitious for our future. We have seen a lot of positive changes over the years but for people living with deafblindness or varying degrees of dual sensory loss, we’re entering a new era of possibilities and challenges. As an organisation, it is vital we continue to change and innovate to ensure our services meet the needs of our growing membership and that we extend our reach to more people with deafblindness or dual sensory loss and their families.
This strategic plan sets out some ambitious plans for the next five years. We will develop new and enhanced services so we can provide greater care, support and advice to more people across the UK. We will invest in research so that we better understand the needs of our members; in our infrastructure so we can continue to deliver effective and efficient services; and in our staff and volunteers. We will also continue to raise awareness of deafblindness and what Deafblind UK does so that more people can be signposted to the support and advice they need.
Deafblind UK is a membership organisation for and led by people who are deafblind. Our strategy therefore has been shaped and informed by their views, experiences and opinions. We held a series of membership forums across the country so that we could hear directly from people who are deafblind, their families and carers. We also talked to our staff and volunteers to hear about their experiences and what matters to them and the deafblind people they work with.
In the UK today, there are an estimated 394,000 deafblind people. Our ageing population means that by 2030 this number could grow to 600,000.
The combination of a hearing and sight loss creates a unique set of wider needs that, without the right support, can leave deafblind people vulnerable, marginalised and isolated. Combined sight and hearing loss affects a person’s ability to access mainstream information and services, engage socially, conduct daily tasks and get out and about. If the appropriate care and support is not provided, the inability to perform these activities can lead to diminished independence and confidence which often leads to isolation, anxiety and depression.
Barriers which exclude people with deafblindness from social interactions and so increase their isolation and loneliness include:
- A lack of understanding about how to communicate and interact with people who are deafblind.
- Inaccessible venues and events for social opportunities.
- A lack of information in accessible formats about social opportunities.
- A lack of accessible public transport or inaccessible street environments such as pavements blocked by cars or street clutter can make getting out and about more difficult.
- Poor access to professional communication support such as interpreters.
- A lack of access to educational or employment restricts opportunities for social interaction and financial independence.
(Addressing loneliness in disabled people report 2017)
Deafblindness most commonly affects older people with some estimates stating 1 in 5 over 85 year olds will have sight and hearing loss. It is inevitable therefore that with a rapidly increasing aging population, the need for support for people living with deafblindness has never been greater.
However, this dramatic increase in need comes at a time when our social care system is already struggling to meet the needs of our older people with 26% fewer people now receiving help than 6 years ago. Pervasive cuts to Local Authority budgets have been passed on to care providers like Deafblind UK through real-term cuts in fees making our much needed and valued services less and less sustainable. Combined with an acute shortage of support workers and higher regulatory standards, the Kings Fund believes social care providers are under unprecedented pressure which threatens to undermine their ability to support people in their own homes.
Through our strategy work with members, volunteers, staff and trustees, we identified five overarching strategic objectives:
- Transforming our offering to people who are deafblind
- Developing knowledge and understanding of deafblindness
- Transforming the profile of Deafblind UK
- Further developing and engaging our people
- Securing Deafblind UK as a sustainable organisation for the future
1. Transforming our offering to people who are deafblind
We want to ensure that what we do now and in the future, meets the needs of people who are deafblind. It is important that what we do is regarded as being of high quality and value for money by those using and funding our products & services.
We will do this by:
- Investing in our existing services such as our Information and Advice Line, Welfare Calls, Digital Inclusion and Befriending & Companion Services so they are available and accessed by more of our members.
- Developing, piloting and rolling out new services based on our members needs such as Day Services, Arts & Crafts. Transitional Services and Hospital Liaison Officers
- Reducing isolation by connecting people who are deafblind with each other, with their community and with Deafblind UK through social groups, shared interest activities, companions and technology
- Supporting people to identify and understand their sight and hearing loss through partnerships with health/social care professionals and focusing on early intervention and prevention
- Investing in Rainbow Court so it can return to being a showcase of independent living for people with deafblindness
2. Developing knowledge and understanding of deafblindness
We want to be at the forefront of knowledge and research around deafblindness so people who are deafblind, their families, carers and those working in the field of dual sensory loss know who to come to for advice and support.
We will do this by:
- Developing our research capability to carry out our own studies, commission larger pieces of work and influence international work.
- Providing easily accessible findings from research so that information and knowledge can be shared more widely. We will begin by summarising relevant and interesting research on our website and featuring highlights in our Open Hand magazine.
- Further developing our own knowledge and expertise in deafblindness, through an innovative internal training programme which upskills all staff and reflects the differing needs of different staff groups and volunteers
- Being at the forefront of technology innovation by working with technology companies to ensure the needs of people who are deafblind are factored into accessibility provision and to enable Deafblind UK to better influence the development of hepatic technology
- Developing accredited external training and professional development programmes for health and social care professionals to develop their skills in working with dual sensory loss
- Establishing and hosting a bi annual UK Deafblind conference where national and international speakers discuss the latest developments, research, issues and best practice
- Providing relevant, current and helpful information for professionals working in the field of deafblindness which positions Deafblind UK as the ‘go to’ organisation for information and advice regarding deafblindness,
3. Transform the profile of Deafblind UK
We want to increase public awareness of deafblindness so that more people understand what deafblindness is and what Deafblind UK does. It is important that people can recognise, support and appropriately signpost people who are deafblind to the services they need and that Deafblind UK is recognised as the experts in deafblindness.
We will do this by:
- Developing a sustainable messaging campaign to raise awareness of deafblindness and develop more support for our services
- Establishing DBUK as a respected voice for people with deafblindness; listening to their concerns and campaigning on their behalf to ensure the views of deafblind people are heard at the highest level
- Transforming our brand so that everyone with dual sensory loss, regardless of their degree of impairment, knows that Deafblind UK is relevant and has something to offer them and their families
- Rebranding our About Me services as Deafblind UK Care & Support to avoid confusion and strengthen our core brand which will now reflect the full range of services we offer
4. Further developing and engaging our people
We want to be an organisation who is consistently described by its employees and volunteers as a great place to be and whose values are embodied in everything we do. We aim to be an employer of choice in the social care sector.
We will do this by:
- Establishing an employee forum to increase engagement; developing talent recognition mechanisms and; implementing a new pay & reward structure so we can recruit and retain the best people
- Developing bespoke internal training suited to the needs of differing staff/volunteer groups and moving towards employee led training so we build our reputation as a learning organisation.
5. Securing Deafblind UK as a sustainable organisation
We believe people who are deafblind should have an organisation who champions their rights and opportunities. We want Deafblind UK to be that organisation for the long term and therefore need to be financially and organisationally strong
We will do this by:
- Growing our membership by extending our reach to more people with dual sensory loss and their families to ensure we truly represent all people who are deafblind
- Diversifying and growing our income streams through transforming our conference centre into the region’s preferred meeting venue; increasing our care & support customer base; increasing our range of paid for services such as external training and assessments and; investing in our fundraising activities such as community fundraising to maximise our impact
- Reducing our organisational costs to ensure we operate as effectively and efficiently as possible
- Developing and nurturing mutually beneficial partnerships with likeminded organisations and exploring opportunities for shared services and co-location
- Ensuring our buildings are fit for purpose, well maintained and provide good return on investment
Annual reports and financial statements
Click the links below to download our annual reports and financial statements