Sensory Inspirers leading the way

Written by: Lindsay McDowall, Service Manager, Visibility

Published: 05/10/2018

Visibility Service Manager Lindsay McDowall speaks about receiving a share of investment from the Self Management Fund.

Visibility service manager Lindsay McDowall reacts to the news that the organisation was one of 26 across the country to receive a share of investment from the Self Management Fund:

I’ve been working in the voluntary sector since 2002 and a lot has changed over the last 16 years.  And I’m not just referring to advances in technology and the fact that every organisation, no matter how big or small, is expected to have a social media presence across multiple platforms and staff willing and able to manage that.  But I feel the way we’re all working now is different and innovative.

In the past, I think many voluntary organisations were guilty of trying to do things to or for their service users and customers, whether that was through delivering services directly, or linking with local volunteers.

At Visibility we’ve always talked about doing things with people, perhaps a bit differently than they used to, and ultimately leading to them living their lives confidently and independently.  Over the last two years, that outlook has flourished as we have actively sought out those who have adjusted and overcame the challenges presented by losing their sight or hearing to get on board and help us deliver training and talks to the local community and shadow our staff during home visits, demonstrating equipment and giving advice as only they can.  We call them our “sensory inspirers” and we have 20 across Dumfries & Galloway.

During this we have been blown away by the willingness and eagerness of people we’re working with to share their experiences and knowledge.  Who better to advise someone on how to overcome the challenges presented by losing their sight or hearing than someone who has already been through it?

So the news that we were successful in receiving £25,000 from the Self Management Fund, which hopes to transform support and integrated care for people living with long-term conditions in Scotland, was timely and, of course, very well received!

With this funding we will work with our sensory inspirers to devise and deliver an innovative course that will result in people living with sight, hearing or dual sensory loss in Dumfries & Galloway share their experience and knowledge to help those newly diagnosed with similar conditions.

Tailored self-management courses will be run over a number of weeks in each of the four locality areas across the region – Wigtownshire, Stewartry, Nithsdale and Annandale & Eskdale – and not only delivered by those who have a sensory impairment themselves, but actually written and designed by them too.

The aim of these courses is for people to feel better informed as to how they can cope with their sensory loss and manage a long-term condition.  By co-producing the course with local people living with sensory loss we will ensure it is developed from their lived experience, rather than from the professional perspective which is the key to the successful delivery of the courses.  This will link them with others in their community living with sensory loss, and give the courses a real local flavour.

We’re very much going into this with a blank sheet of paper – the content will be informed directly from people based on feedback.  What is delivered in Wigtownshire may be different from the course that runs in Nithsdale, and that will be a result of our sensory inspirers writing and delivering the course to their peers.

We feel this will make the advice and information given specific and targeted, and in turn profound and far reaching.  Exciting times are ahead for Visibility, our sensory inspirers and the voluntary sector as a whole.

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