Macular Disease Foundation Australia (MDFA) has developed a range of electronic resources to help residential aged care facilities (RACFs) better understand and manage eye health and vision loss.
According to the Foundation, many people living in RACFs have vision problems. Sometimes, these problems have not been diagnosed or treated, or the staff are unaware that the person with vision problems needs certain types of assistance.
In 2015, MDFA received funding from the Australian Government to work with RACFs to investigate ways in which the eye health of residents could be improved. To do this, MDFA first needed to get an estimation of how many people in aged care facilities had vision problems.
In collaboration with a team of experts, eye tests were carried out across a sample of RACFs to provide an estimation of how many people in aged care facilities had vision problems. This allowed MDFA to gain a comprehensive understanding of the current practices regarding the diagnosis, monitoring and recording of eye conditions in RACFs, and identify how the management of residents is adjusted based on their vision status.
The study found high rates of eye disease among residents, particularly age-related macular degeneration. It also highlighted that more training was required by RACF care workers in identifying those living with vision problems.
According to MDFA CEO Dee Hopkins, “Ensuring best quality of life outcomes for those affected by macular disease, no matter their personal circumstance, is the backbone of MDFA’s work. This study highlighted that there was a knowledge gap, which is why MDFA has developed a number of electronic resources to help RACFs better understand and manage eye health and vision loss.”
These include an electronic resource for management and health professionals, plus a training video and accompanying resource for aged care workers on how to better care for people who are blind or have poor vision. A resource for families/ guardians of residents in aged care facilities has also been produced.
Ciaran Foley, Chief Executive Officer, Allambie Heights Village Ltd (a participating RACF) says of the resources, “The training video and associated resources will assist staff from all of Australia’s Residential Aged Care Facilities to better understand the care needs of residents who are blind or have poor vision. Recognising the signs of sight deterioration and the importance of early detection, diagnosis and treatment will benefit residents immensely, their independence and their quality of life”.
While currently not mandatory, it is expected RACFs will incorporate these resources into their management systems and staff training programs. The resources and training video can be viewed at www.mdfoundation.com.au