Working with blind and partially sighted people

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My housing doesn’t meet my needs.

When someone tells us that they need to move to a specialist home because of their sight problem, our first question is always – why? Think about it. What does home really mean to you? Before assuming that moving is the only option, consider whether, with the right support and some minor adjustments, you could continue to live independently in your home. However, if you choose to move, then there are many choices available to you.

I want to move home, what are my choices?

When selecting housing there are many options to choose from. To help you make informed choices we have listed some of the options.

    • Private renting


    • Social Housing which includes Council tenancy, Housing Associations and
      Registered Social Landlords


    • Care Homes


    • Organisations providing supported accommodation


  • Organisations providing specialist housing


Private Renting:

If you want to live independently in privately rented accommodation, your main sources of information will be local newspapers in the area you are hoping to move to, letting agencies and the internet if you have access to it. All landlords must comply with the Housing Act 1996, which outlines the rights you have as a tenant, and many letting agencies will provide additional services to support you in making the right choice.

Top Tips

    • Find out the terms and conditions of tenancy


    • Agree an inventory of equipment and its condition with your landlord – once you have moved in it becomes your responsibility


    • Make sure the information that is left for you about how equipment works is accessible to you


    • Take photos of the condition of the property, this will ensure no disagreements about refunding deposits


    • Ensure gas and electrical appliances have been tested to meet legal requirements


    • If you own a pet, including a guide dog, or are a smoker, your choices of property may be limited


  • Know who to contact if there is a problem or emergency to do with your home

Many letting agents are members of the Guild of Letting and Management. Members agree to meet certain codes of practice and standards approved by Government.

For further information they can be contacted at:

4 The Briars
Waterberry Drive
Tel: 01992 420022
Fax: 01992 463870
Website: www.guild-let.co.uk


Social Housing:

Social housing includes council housing and accommodation provided by Housing Associations.

Housing Associations are monitored by the Housing Corporation, which ensures they meet certain standards and are inspected regularly. As a tenant of any social housing you will be given a Tenant’s Charter, which will outline information about how your property is managed and also about how you will be consulted over proposed changes.

To apply for social housing you may need to contact your local council’s housing department in the first instance, although some Housing Associations will accept applications from individuals. It is likely that there will be a waiting list and the most urgent cases will be treated as priorities. Urgency will depend upon your current situation; all applications are assessed against a set of criteria and points awarded accordingly. The greater number of points your application is awarded, the higher priority you become.

Criteria for Social Housing Applications:

On what basis are points awarded?

    • Security of Tenure – If you have no home or only have the right to live in your home for 28 days or less. Whether you are living in temporary accommodation or have limited security of tenure, i.e. a shorthold tenancy which is soon to expire. This excludes where you are leaving the parental home


    • Social needs – Are there social issues which are making it difficult to live where you do? This may include being subject to harassment, marital breakdown, fleeing violence or needing to move for employment


    • Medical condition – Do you have a health issue which is being made worse by your existing housing?


    • Condition of current property – Is it in need of modernisation or major repair? Do you have to share facilities with other tenants (not including your own family)?


    • Unsuitable accommodation – Do you have needs which make your current housing unsuitable, i.e. you may have children and are living in a flat above first floor level or you may be over 60 years old with mobility difficulties and need accommodation on the ground floor


  • Size of home – Is your home overcrowded?

Contact details for further information:

To find out more about social housing contact your local council’s housing department and ask for information about securing housing either directly through the local authority or through a local housing association. Alternatively, you can ring SHELTERLINE free on 0808 800 4444, twenty-four hours a day, where you can talk to an experienced housing advisor who may be able to refer you to a local housing aid centre.

Care Homes:

Looking for a care home:

Moving into a care home means significant change, but with information about opportunities this can be a very positive choice. Knowing where to start is often the most difficult step to take. The following information will signpost you to various organisations who will be able to assist you in being able to make informed choices.

You may already have a social services care manager but, if not it, is advisable that you contact your local social services who will assign one to you, to support you through the process. This may involve various assessments including a financial one which will assess your ability to pay for your care. Your local authority will advise you on this. If you have substantial capital to support you then you can apply to a home without going through social services. However, if this capital will not sustain you for a long period of time, you should be aware that if you need to seek future financial support, social services may not cover the level of fees that you require.

All care homes have to be registered with the National Care Standards Commission (NCSC). This is an independent body set up under the Care Standards Act 2000 to regulate social care and independent healthcare services in accordance with statutory regulations and national minimum standards that have been issued by the Department of Health.

The NCSC operates an inspection system for care homes with the following themes:

    • Focus on service users – This requires care providers to prove that the facilities, resources, policies, activities and services of each home lead to positive outcomes for, and the active participation of, service users


    • Fitness for Purpose – This ensures that care home managers, staff and premises are geared up to deliver the services they offer


    • Comprehensiveness – Life in a care home is made up of a range of services and facilities which may be of greater or lesser importance to different service users. Inspectors will look at the total package offered by each care home and how it contributes to the overall health care needs and personal preferences of service users


    • Meeting assessed need – Care homes must provide evidence that they can meet the needs of service users as they have been assessed and continue to do so as those needs change over time


    • Quality services – Care home providers will have to prove that they have a commitment to continuous improvement, and the delivery of quality services that assure a good quality of life for service users


  • Quality workforce – This recognises that competent, well trained managers and staff are fundamental to achieving good quality care for service users


Choosing a Home:

In order to make a fully informed choice you need clear and comprehensive information. You should be offered the following by a prospective home; if not you have the right to ask for it.

    • A statement of purpose, setting out aims and objectives of the service, outlining the range of services and facilities available and the terms and conditions on which it does so in its contract of occupancy with residents. This may be in the form of a brochure


  • A copy of the most recent inspection report – This will include details of any action the NCSC inspector has identified in the form of a requirement or recommendation for improvement

Action for Blind People has produced a comprehensive checklist to help you assess how each home caters for the needs of blind and partially sighted people. This guidance may be useful when comparing care homes. Contact us on 0800 915 9666

Top tips:

    • Visit more than once


    • Ask questions – as many and as often as you need


    • Ask for a trial stay – it is your right to do this


    • Visit unannounced and observe daily life in the home


    • When visiting talk to staff and other residents not just the manager


    • Listen to how staff address residents


    • Ask to look at their complaints book and ask what their complaints procedure is


    • Ask about their experience of working with blind and partially sighted people and what training the staff have received


    • Find out the House Rules


  • Find out what involvement you will have in the decisions made about your life in your new home

Contact details for further information:

NCSC Headquarters (England)
St. Ncholas Building
St. Nicholas Street
Newcastle upon Tyne
Email: enquiries@ncsc.gsi.gov.uk
Customer Services: 0191 233 3556 Mon – Fri 8.30 – 5.30

Scottish Commission for the Regulation of Care
Care Commission
Compass House
11 Riverside Drive
Tel: 01382 207100

Care Standards Inspectorate for Wales
National Office
Units 4-5, Charnwood Court
Heol Billingsley
Parc Nantgarw
near Cardiff
CF15 7QZ
Tel: 01443 848450

For further details about care homes contact your local social services department who will be able to send you a list of care homes in your area.


Supported Housing:

Supported housing is accommodation with an element of support provided as part of the package. This is designed for people with additional needs which may include a disability.

To access supported housing it is important that you can demonstrate that you need the additional support provided as part of this package.

Some examples of support that might be provided with this housing option:

    • Help with shopping, errand running and good neighbour tasks


    • Help with shopping, errand running and good neighbour tasks


    • Access to local community organisations


    • Meeting assessed need – Care homes must provide evidence that they can meet the needs of service users as they have been assessed and continue to do so as those needs change over time


    • Peer support and befriending


    • Emotional support, counselling and advice


  • Help in managing finances and benefit claims

Top tips:

    • Visit more than once


    • Ask questions – as many and as often as you need


    • What are the support arrangements and how do you access them?


    • What is the rent? How is it broken down and do you know what you are paying for?


    • Find out what happens if your needs change? Will you be asked to move on?


    • Find out terms and conditions of tenancy including what your rights are


    • Find out if there is a focal point for meeting fellow tenants for conversation and participation in social events?


    • Have a walk around; is the environment attractive and well cared for?


  • How will they involve you in decisions that affect you?

Contact details for further information:

To find out more about supported housing options contact your local council’s housing department.


Specialist Housing:

A number of organisations provide housing specially adapted for people who are blind or partially sighted, although this is not available everywhere. You may find that you will need to move to a different area which may sever important links you have with your community, especially if you have lived in the same area for a number of years. You may also be moving further away from your friends, family and advocates who currently provide support to you. Remember, it is worth balancing your desire to live in specialist housing with the potential need to move away from the people and place that you know.

Contact details for further information:

To find out more information about organisations that provide specialist housing for blind and partially sighted people contact Action for Blind People on 0800 915 4666.

Action for Blind People provides a range of housing and information services and they can also work with you to provide support when choosing from a wide range of housing options. They are only ever a phonecall away and happy to help.



We would like to thank our strategic partner Latest Formal Wear UK (Deemas Fashion) for supporting and sponsoring Opsis for our upcoming events. Deemas Fashion also planning to arrange a fashion show for Blinds and Partially Sighted girls and guys.