The impact of a support centre for people with sensory impairment living in rural Scotland



Smith A, Shepherd A, Jepson R & MacKay S (2016) The impact of a support centre for people with sensory impairment living in rural Scotland. Primary Health Care Research and Development, 17 (2), pp. 138-148.

Aim The overall aim of this study was to evaluate whether attendance at a Sensory Support Centre for people with a sensory impairment living in the Western Isles of Scotland had an impact on their lives.  Background Demographic forecasts show that the prevalence of sensory impairment in the population will increase, as a significant proportion of sensory loss is age related. People with sensory impairments are more likely to experience social exclusion, and are more at risk of injury and physical and mental illness. Therefore, strategies to improve service access and provision for people with sensory impairments are important to reduce the disability associated with sight and/or hearing loss.  Methods All clients who accessed the service during a six-month period were invited to complete a postal questionnaire about their service experience. Semi-structured individual interviews with clients (n=12) described their experience of living with a sensory impairment and the impact (if any) that access to the Sensory Centre had on their lives. Individual interviews were also conducted with healthcare and social-care professionals (n=7) to ascertain their level of service awareness.  Findings Clients who experienced sensory impairment described how the impairment negatively impacted on their activities of living, safety and independence. Following Sensory Centre assessment and support, some clients were able to identify ways in which interventions had reduced their sense of social isolation, impacted positively on self-confidence and sense of self-esteem and safety. Importantly, interventions had supported greater functional independence in their own homes.  Conclusion This study provides evidence that access to sensory services are important to people with sensory impairments living in remote areas, and should be considered when planning healthcare services, as they are one way of ameliorating health inequalities in this population group.

remote and rural; sensory impairment; sensory services

Primary Health Care Research and Development: Volume 17, Issue 2

Publication date31/03/2016
Publication date online17/04/2015
Date accepted by journal15/03/2015
PublisherCambridge University Press

People (2)


Professor Ashley Shepherd

Professor Ashley Shepherd

Professor, Health Sciences Stirling

Dr Annetta Smith

Dr Annetta Smith

Senior Lecturer, Health Sciences (Highland & W.Isles)