Vision Rehabilitation Courses Restart in Scotland

Date posted: 30th January 2023

The ALLIANCE Scottish Sensory Hub is delighted to announce that the Graduate Low Vision Rehabilitation Course, at Glasgow Caledonian University, will be reinstated this year, with funding help from Thomas Pocklington Trust (TPT).

The Scottish Visual Services Steering Group which includes the Scottish Sensory Hub, Visibility Scotland, Sight Scotland, RNIB Scotland and the Rehabilitation Workers’ Professional Network (RWPN) have joined forces to tackle an impending crisis in provision and delivery of Rehabilitation Services across Scotland.

An ageing workforce and lack of qualification pathway combined, pose a threat to future provision and delivery of Rehabilitation Services in Scotland, both now and in the immediate future.

The reinstatement of the graduate qualification will provide 20 students from the third sector and Health and Social Care Partnerships, the opportunity to gain a formal rehabilitation qualification. The course is the only specially designed one in the country at the moment.

Once qualified, these students, already employed or newly recruited to the sight loss sector, will alleviate gaps in Rehabilitation Service provision/delivery, alleviate the strain on current services, better meet demands and importantly, ensure that people affected by sight loss receive timely access to Rehabilitation Services, enabling people to adopt positive coping strategies, navigate independently, retain employment and live active, fulfilled lives.

We want to thank the members of the Scottish Visual Services Steering Group for their hard work in bringing this to fruition. In particular, the SVSSG Chairperson, Laura Walker, CEO of Visibility Scotland, for her sustained commitment, drive and determination to reinstate this qualification pathway, Dr Hazel McFarlane at the Scottish Sensory Hub for her detailed work and coordination and Gillian Heavie and Susan Shippey in the Scottish Government’s Support for Augmentative and Alternative Communication and Sensory Loss Team for their skilled support and efforts to secure funding.

Laura Walker, Chief Executive, Visibility Scotland said:

“As the Chief Executive of Visibility Scotland, the Chairperson of the Scottish Visual Service Steering Group, and a Rehabilitation Worker who trained and qualified in Scotland, I am absolutely thrilled to welcome the Graduate Low Vision Rehabilitation Course back to Scotland. The reinstatement of this course supports Right to Rehab, increasing positive outcomes for visually impaired people in Scotland. Right service, right time! Through collaboration, the sight loss sector has demonstrated that many voices are stronger than one.”

Cathy Low, Director of Partnerships, Thomas Pocklington Trust said:

“Rehabilitation is vitally important to the independence and confidence of blind and partially sighted people – particularly those newly diagnosed with sight loss.  That’s why TPT is delighted to be able to support the reinstatement of the Graduate Low Vision Rehabilitation Course in Scotland.

We use our grants programme strategically on projects which tackle systemic problems affecting blind and partially sighted people. We are also interested in learning lessons from the programme which could be applied elsewhere in the UK”

Due to the exceptional workforce circumstances identified by the Sensory Hub a total of 20 studentships across the third sector and HSCP’s have received a 50% subsidy. Please note that any subsequent places from 2023 onwards will require full payment.

Isabella Goldie, Chief Executive Deafblind Scotland commented:

“When developing our new Right to Dream strategy deafblind people told us that life would have been so different if support had been available as they were transitioning into sight loss. This new low vision rehabilitation course will allow us for the first time to put in place a team with the skills to ensure that people can adapt to the changes in their sight whilst continuing to lead a life of their choice.”

Samantha Duncan, student said:

“I am enrolling in this endeavour as I think the need for Rehabilitation Specialists in Scotland is clear. I had previously been working as a patient support worker and realised there are not enough services for all the people that need support. The course content is motivating, and a wide range of skills and competencies are covered, meaning that the support we can provide to our service users is more robust.”

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