The Occupational Therapy Team includes a (Re)habilitation Officer with a Higher National Diploma in Rehabilitation Studies combined with an Advanced Certificate in Education (Working with Children And Young Adults with a Visual Impairment), with both qualifications gained through Guide Dogs for the Blind. This role has a countywide remit.
The main focus of the (Re)habilitation support is to provide a child with a visual impairment and their families support, guidance and training to try and minimise the impact of a visual impairment in the home and social setting. Close ties with the Habilitation Officer for Education and the Qualified Teachers of the visually impaired ensures support is appropriate between the home and educational settings.
The involvement of a (Re)Habilitation Officer at the early stages of diagnosis can help to alleviate the pressure and worry of a child being issued with a Certificate of Visual Impairment. Support in understanding information contained within the Certificate, undertaking functional assessments of vision and implementing appropriate Rehabilitation training are the cornerstones of support.
Focus for the (Re)habilitation Officer is:
Initial Assessment of Functional Vision – this may take the form of between 1-3 visits (and may include an observational visit to school), to determine if support from the Rehabilitation Officer is required at that time. If it is then the support may involve one or a number of the following:
Safety in the home – understanding where children and young adults with a visual impairment can/cannot use their vision as their primary sense and providing strategies and advice on minimising the impact of a visual impairment in the home environment.
Living Skills – this area of training might include improving home knowledge (e.g. knowing where all the utensils are in a kitchen, how to organise clothing, making a shopping list, money management, finding things for yourself!, drinks and snacks), as well as labelling, following recipes, cooker management, use of cutlery, for example.
Environmental Orientation – With younger children this would be to help a family be confident in providing good information in known environments / on known routes that would enable a child to begin being involved in making good decisions about their own safety and orientation. With young adults is may well be ensuring they can achieve the above independently.
Public Transport – Being confident and able to access timetables, get to bus stops and train stations, knowing how to get on the appropriate transport, finding seating, knowing when to alight and then getting to a destination from the bus stop / train station.
Mobility Aids – Providing long cane or symbol cane training to those individuals where they cannot use their vision as their primary sense for part or all of a journey. Families are encouraged to not only observe this training but to be part of it so that they have the skills and confidence to support good practise outside of training times.
There are close links with our colleagues in Education to ensure that the support at home and at school is comprehensive and universally understood and supported.