The impact of a support centre for people with sensory impairment living in rural Scotland

Annetta Smith, Ashley Shepherd, Ruth Jepson, Seonaid Mackay

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Aim The overall aim of this study was to evaluate whether attendance at a Sensory Support Centre for people with a sensory impairment living in the Western Isles of Scotland had an impact on their lives.

BACKGROUND: Demographic forecasts show that the prevalence of sensory impairment in the population will increase, as a significant proportion of sensory loss is age related. People with sensory impairments are more likely to experience social exclusion, and are more at risk of injury and physical and mental illness. Therefore, strategies to improve service access and provision for people with sensory impairments are important to reduce the disability associated with sight and/or hearing loss.

METHODS: All clients who accessed the service during a six-month period were invited to complete a postal questionnaire about their service experience. Semi-structured individual interviews with clients (n=12) described their experience of living with a sensory impairment and the impact (if any) that access to the Sensory Centre had on their lives. Individual interviews were also conducted with healthcare and social-care professionals (n=7) to ascertain their level of service awareness. Findings Clients who experienced sensory impairment described how the impairment negatively impacted on their activities of living, safety and independence. Following Sensory Centre assessment and support, some clients were able to identify ways in which interventions had reduced their sense of social isolation, impacted positively on self-confidence and sense of self-esteem and safety. Importantly, interventions had supported greater functional independence in their own homes.

CONCLUSION: This study provides evidence that access to sensory services are important to people with sensory impairments living in remote areas, and should be considered when planning healthcare services, as they are one way of ameliorating health inequalities in this population group.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-11
Number of pages11
JournalPrimary Health Care Research & Development
Publication statusPublished - 17 Apr 2015


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