National charity, Deafblind UK, is urging us all to consider the impact of the current COVID-19 pandemic on those who have sight and hearing loss.
CEO Steve Conway said: “Sight and hearing loss can be really difficult to live with. Not only can it be physically tiring when you are trying to communicate and get by in a world that is designed for sighted hearing people, but evidence suggests that it can have a huge effect on mental health too.
“People who have sensory loss face every single day, not only in isolation, but in darkness and silence. They constantly rely on others and are often confined to their own homes. So, the increased sense of isolation and loneliness caused by the need to stay at home and social distancing is enormous. We are extremely worried about the mental health implications that this will have on our members.
Roger Wilson-Hinds is deafblind. He said: “I have to be close and break the normal personal space social conventions to communicate. I can’t see facial expressions or exchange winks. Touching is vital to my emotional life with others.”
Deafblind UK has recently launched wellbeing and emotional support service to provide in depth assistance to people with sight and hearing loss.
The new service is free of charge and enables people who are deafblind to talk to someone who is trained and experienced in deafblind awareness, active listening, call handling, communication support, safeguarding, signposting, suicide and mental health issues. The service will be available via telephone, email, text, text relay, Skype and Facetime.
Head of National Services, Clare Watson said: “People will be able to benefit from an intensive care package to support them through particularly difficult times, such as coming to terms with a new diagnosis.”
The new service will also include weekly calls to offer some social interaction to those who are on Deafblind UK’s befriending service waiting list; virtual social groups whereby people can get together online or on a group call to interact and socialise; birthday and Christmas cards/calls; and a buddy system whereby people can interact with each other on a one to one basis.
Steve continued: “We hope that we can support people who find themselves at a low point and let them know that they are not alone.”