Age Scotland is proud to be part of the Unforgotten Forces consortium – a partnership between 14 leading organisations that deliver a range of new services and enhancements for older veterans living in Scotland. In this guest blog we hear from Scottish War Blinded about their work with older members of the veterans’ community.
Scottish War Blinded are part of the Unforgotten Forces Consortium to raise awareness of the increasing range of support and activities available to older veterans with aged related sight loss, or visual impairment as a result of any cause.
The Hawkhead Centre opened in Paisley in October of this year, and is for military veterans with sight loss – irrespective of the cause of their sight loss. It has become a hive of activity since the doors opened.
Many of the veterans who have regularly attend the centre’s activities and classes have age related sight loss such as macular degeneration.
The focus of the centre is on supporting veterans to regain confidence and skills they feel they might have lost following their sight loss.
Veterans who find it difficult to travel alone can make use of the free door to door transport, which has become a lifeline for many who live further afield from the centre. Veterans from across the West of Scotland are using these free transport links to come together at the centre on a regular basis.
A great opportunity available at the centre is one-to-one sight loss assessments to support veterans in getting the most out of their remaining sight. The Rehabilitation team work at the centre to provide specialist equipment, and get equipment which is best suited to each individual.
The charity provides financial assistance so that veterans can take life changing pieces of equipment home, such as magnifiers to read the mail once more or screen readers to listen to the newspaper again.
Activities such as I.T training have opened up a new world for many older veterans in particular, many of whom felt that the online world was not for them. Guidance on assistive technology means many have sent their first email and completed their first online shopping.
For many older people struggling with sight loss, falls have become an issue. The strength and fitness classes at the centre are a social way to gain better balance and improve mobility.
Cooking and baking sessions are a way to pick up old skills and learn new recipes, using specially adapted equipment which supports people with sight loss to cook safely and with more ease. Such equipment which enables veterans to be more independent at home is available following individual assessment.
The centre has proven to be a life affirming part of older people’s lives in a short space of time.
Scottish War Blinded welcomes new referrals to the new centre in Paisley, or to the Linburn centre in West Lothian. The organisation also provide an outreach service which supports people in their homes all over Scotland.
If you would like to refer a veteran with sight loss call 0800 035 6409 – it doesn’t matter the cause of their sight loss, Scottish War Blinded are for any veteran with sight loss.