The IRIS project: Improving Rehabilitation for people with Impaired Sight
The project examines the effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of two types of community-based vision rehabilitation services funded by LAs in England.
SPRU research team
Preventive and rehabilitation services are seen as a way of reducing demands on health and social care services. A recent Act of Parliament (the Care Act 2014) urges local authorities to invest in early intervention and has made it a requirement for local authorities to take steps to help all people to live independently before people reach a crisis point. The Act specifies the importance of rehabilitation for people with sight loss.
Sight loss affects every aspect of a person’s life and it is more common among older people. As more people are living longer, the number of people with sight loss is increasing. In the UK, the number of people living with sight loss is forecast to more than double by 2050 to around four million. This means greater pressure on health and social care services.
Research over the last 15 years shows that community-based vision rehabilitation (VR) services have the potential to have a positive impact on people’s daily life and emotional well-being. However, there is little research that is able to tell us how much such services are able to improve outcomes for people with sight loss and whether they are good value for money or the best way to deliver them. Recent research shows that there are currently two main models of vision rehabilitation services that are funded by local authorities in England: In-house, where local authorities deliver their own service and ‘contracted-out’ service, where another organisation is paid to deliver the service for the local authority. We now need research to find out whether the type of service model affects outcomes for those who use them and at what cost. This study addresses these questions and will provide evidence to help those who commission and deliver services to make decisions about how they organise, deliver and develop them.
We will do this by selecting 20 VR services (ten in-house and ten contracted-out). We will collect data from service users about their health-related quality of life, well-being and independence when they first use the service, four weeks and eight weeks after they start using the service, and six months later. We will also collect information about other services they have used. We will then interview service users, frontline staff and people who run VR services to understand how and why services influence outcomes for people. We will use this information to explore which model is working best for which groups of users and to compare the costs of the different models.
We will use what we find out to produce reports that are accessible to a number of people including service users, practitioners and the people who plan and pay for services.