As a person living with combined sight and hearing loss there is a journey from recognising the impact of your combined sight and hearing loss, to seeking support in the form of an assessment and then beyond. A significant part of this journey is becoming aware of the right to a specialist deafblind assessment, why you would want to be assessed, what does getting assessed mean, and what could be the benefits and outcomes of getting assessed.
This information is aimed for deafblind adults with combined sight and hearing loss, similar rights exist for children who are deafblind please contact us for further information.
What is a specialist deafblind assessment?
A specialist deafblind assessment put simply as an assessment of your community care and support needs which complies with the Care Act (2014) and is associated regulations and guidance and in particular the Deafblind Guidance.
In practice this ‘simple’ explanation may appear to be quite complex! So breaking this down …
Your local authority social services must assess your care and support needs; these needs could for example include how you are able to shop for food, or how you can access important local services like your pharmacy, how you can keep your home clean and safe to live in, and personal care can you take care of your toilet and washing needs. Whilst looking at these needs they must also consider your wider wellbeing, so how those needs impact you as an individual and unique deafblind person – no two people view their own wellbeing in the same way.
Complying with the Care Act, and regulations and guidance are considered in depth here. But in basic understanding the most important part is that the assessor, so the person visits you as part of the assessment is appropriately qualified and experienced in deafblindness. This means they have an in-depth understanding of the impacts of a combined sight and hearing loss, and have the skills and knowledge to assess a deafblind person to meet the legal standards including legally specified assessment criteria such a communication and mobility needs.
Why get assessed
Firstly a simple reason of why to be assessed is that you have a legal right to specialist deafblind assessment. Then secondly a specialist assessment can lead to all kinds of formal and informal support, preventative support, information and advice, signposting to local and national charities and services and can include direct payments to enable to purchase support to meet your needs.
The outcomes of any assessment do vary as each person experiences the impacts of their sight and hearing uniquely. In our experience every deafblind person who has had a deafblind assessment it has lead to beneficial outcomes, which have had a positive impact on the person’s life! So whilst we know the assessment process is not short the end results have lead to fantastic changes for deafblind peoples lives.
A self assessment is also possible. Please contact us for advice if you wish to undertake this type of assessment.
What does getting assessed mean?
There are local variations for each social services, many have specialist sensory teams within the service but some to do not.
In practice there are at least 3 steps towards getting assessed;
- Requesting an assessment. This means contacting your local authority adult social services, and asking for a deafblind assessment. (The term deafblind should be recognised and mean your request is appropriately managed)
- Initial assessment. This is a simple information gathering which is often not completed face to face to understand the severity of your sight and hearing loss and basic needs. This helps to allocate a qualified appropriate assessor.
- Specialist deafblind assessment. This is where an appropriately qualified assessor visits you to have a hopefully holistic conversation in your preferred communication method with you to identify your needs.
What could be the potential outcomes?
Once the assessor has completed their assessment, they will identify any eligible needs you may have for care and support, along with any needs for preventative support, information and advice, signposting and any other relevant support. (Before you actually achieve the specific outcomes there are stages of care planning, financial assessment, potentially a funding panel and some other stages – so the process is not immediate)
In practice some of outcomes might be:
- Direct payments. A personal budget that you can spend on care for any eligible needs, this money is provided instead of the local council arranging care for you.
- Care and support services funded and arranged by the local council. If you cannot manage or do not want to use or fully use direct payments the council can arrange your care.
- Care and support for any urgent needs. If during your assessment any urgent needs become apparent, the council can act to meet those needs whilst continuing the assessment – this could mean a 1:1 human support but when meet this urgent need there are fewer choices for who provides that care the decision is unlike with a direct payment the councils.
- If you have other non-eligible needs you can be referred or signposted to local or national schemes, charities or services that can help meeting your needs. This can include things like befriending schemes, peer advocacy, and registering for the Emergency SMS service or free BT Directory Enquiries.
- Short term intervention / preventative services. A deafblind assessment should specifically consider the need for rehabilitation needs, a rehabilitation officer for the visually impaired can assist with daily living skills ie in the kitchen, long mobility cane training.
- The assessment should identify equipment that can help you to live independently, such as loop systems, alerting devices.