The Act requires the local authority to continue to establish and maintain register of sight impaired people. It also enables the local authority to establish and maintain a similar register of those who need care and support, or are likely to do so in future.

February 2019: This chapter has been amended due to changes in the Care and Support Statutory Guidance. More detail has also been added particularly in relation to Section 3, The Certificate of Vision Impairment.

1. Introduction

Local authorities must keep a register of people who are severely sight impaired and sight impaired.

Registration is voluntary, however individuals should be encouraged to consent to being registered as it may assist them in accessing other concessions and benefits. People who agree to be registered may be entitled to some benefits, for example, an increase in personal tax allowance, a reduction in the cost of a TV licence, a free bus pass and parking concessions under the Blue Badge Scheme. It is important that strong links exist between local authorities, health services and voluntary organisations to identify those who may benefit from registration.

The data which registration provides the local authority are also of benefit in service planning for health and care and support. However, individuals’ access to care and support is not dependent upon registration, and those with eligible needs for care and support should continue to receive it regardless of whether they wish to be registered.

Local authorities should help health and social care organisations to work together to meet the needs of people who have sight loss, for example, ensuring that care and support services know what help somebody needs in their home when they leave hospital. Timely assessment and care and support planning that is integrated with health care and person centred care offer the potential to make improvements in experience and outcomes of people who are sight impaired, as well as improving system efficiency.

2. Registration

If the person consents to registration they will be included on the local authority’s register and be provided with a registration card. The register can also be used by the local authority to ensure that information about services is made accessible to that person for example to ask if support could be given to assist them to participate in electoral events.

3. The Certificate of Vision Impairment

The Certificate of Vision Impairment (CVI) formally certifies someone as being sight impaired or as severely sight impaired. Where the patient has given their consent, a copy of the CVI should be sent to the local authority by the hospital staff. However, people in receipt of a CVI should not be added to the local register until they have given their specific consent to the local authority for registration.

Local authorities may take the date of certification given on the CVI as the effective date of registration. If the adult has not given their consent for their name to be added to the register of sight impaired adults, however, they should still be offered a needs assessment.

The CVI is an important source of information for local authorities in relation to their registration duties. The local authority should satisfy themselves that the CVI is completed correctly and it contains valid signatures as required (currently the consultant ophthalmologist and the patient) when receiving a hard copy of the form. Electronic versions and paper copies of CVIs should be accepted for registration.

3.1 Certification

The CVI is issued by a consultant ophthalmologist to the patient certifying as sight impaired or severely sight impaired. The DHSC guidelines in the Certificate of Vision Impairment: Explanatory Notes for Consultant Ophthalmologists and Hospital Eye Clinic Staff states who should be certified as severely sight impaired and sight impaired.

Certification is not the final stage, but often it is the point when people begin to accept the severity of their sight loss and get access to practical and emotional support.

It is expected that NHS services will keep the completed certificate, signed by the consultant and the patient, for their records. Where the patient has given their consent, a copy of the certificate should be sent to the relevant local authority and the patient’s GP within five working days of its completion. The ‘Certificate of Vision Impairment Explanatory Notes for Consultant Ophthalmologists and Hospital Eye Clinic Staff provides information on this.

Local authorities should note that there will also be people who have a reduced / low vision but do not meet the criteria for certification who may need to be considered in service planning.

3.2 Transferring and retaining the CVI

The CVIs should be kept until the person moves to another area or has passed away. In the event of a person’s death, the local authority should keep the CVI for at least six years after the person’s death as it may be necessary for tax purposes to establish if a deceased person was registered with a local authority.

3.3 Making contact

Upon receipt of the CVI, the local authority should make contact with the person issued with the CVI within two weeks to arrange their inclusion on the local authority’s register (with the person’s informed consent) and offer individuals a registration card as identified on the CVI registration form. Where there is an appearance of need for care and support, local authorities must arrange an assessment of their needs in a timely manner.

To minimise unnecessary costs and maximise the ability of people who have sight impairment, they should have early access to information and advice in an accessible format so that they can adapt to their situation as quickly as possible and obtain any aids and support that will help them to manage their lives better.

4. Continuity of Care

A person may decide to move home and live in another local authority area (see Continuity of Care). The first local authority should ensure that the person’s care and support needs will continue to be met during their move. The process requires the original authority to provide the authority the person is moving to with relevant information to support the move such as a copy of the person’s care and support plan, their latest assessment, and any other documentation the second authority requests. This should include a copy of their CVI. The second authority should register the person with the person’s consent on their register, and the former authority should remove that person’s name to avoid duplication.

The first authority will be able to invoice the second authority for the cost of care, from the date it is agreed between the respective local authorities that the adult acquired a place of ordinary residence in the second area (see Ordinary Residence).

5. Care Planning

Providing excellent services for blind and partially sighted people – A guide for local authorities, published by Royal National Institute for Blind People (RNIB) and Action for Blind People, is a good practice guide that helps inform local authorities’ understanding of the extent and impact of sight impairment, the main causes and risk factors and the effects on people’s lives.

Having carried out a needs assessment, the local authority must prepare a care and support plan for everyone with eligible needs or other needs which it is going to meet. Where someone has sight loss, this should be recorded in the care and support plan (see Developing a Care / Support Plan).

Local authorities should consider securing specialist qualified rehabilitation and assessment provision (whether in-house, or contracted through a third party), to ensure that the needs of people with sight loss are correctly identified and their independence maximised. Certain aspects of independence training with severely sight impaired and sight impaired people require careful risk management and should only be undertaken by professionals with relevant experience and training. This type of rehabilitation should be provided to the person for a period appropriate to meet their needs. This will help the person to gain new skills, for example, when training to use a white cane. See ADASS position statement on vision rehabilitation.

This makes it clear that rehabilitation for sight impaired people is a specific form of reablement and is not limited to the usual six week period for rehabilitation as this could take longer. There are some characteristics which define rehabilitation as being distinct from other forms of reablement. It is therefore not appropriate to take a one-size-fits-all approach, and the local authority needs to ensure that individual needs are met appropriately.

6. Other Registers

Local authorities may also establish and maintain a register of people living in their area who have a disability (a physical or mental impairment which has a substantial and long term adverse effect on their ability to carry out normal day to day activities) or who need care and support or are likely to do so in the future. (This is a power to maintain a register, as opposed to a duty to do so as per the sight register.)

Inclusion on registers is voluntary and with the individual’s informed consent. However local authorities should encourage individual’s consent to inclusion on the register as such registers may support the establishment of an accurate and useful local record of people whose needs may change over time, for example:

  • someone with a progressive long-term condition whose needs may increase over time;
  • when the person on whom they are mainly dependent for their care has stopped providing care;
  • those who are ordinarily resident but may be receiving temporary care and support out of area, or in-patient treatment in health services, but who are likely to require care and support on their discharge or return.

Local authorities may wish to link the information collected to the Joint Strategic Needs Assessments (JSNAs) as well as the Joint Health and Wellbeing Strategies. They may also, as part of local JSNA and Health and Wellbeing Strategy development, want to look at this information alongside complementary information from other partners, for example, information drawn appropriately from registers of people with learning disabilities or particular health conditions which are held by GPs, in order to produce a comprehensive and accurate shared local picture.