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National Braille Day and supporting residents with visual impairments

World Braille Day is celebrated every year on 4 January – the birthday of Louis Braille. Braille was a blind Frenchman who invented the language consisting of raised dots arranged in patterns for people with impaired vision to move their fingertips along and read. Braille has become the internationally recognised code for blind and visually impaired people to access written information.

If you have residents with visual impairments in your care home, you will know how vital it is that additional support is provided to help them access the information they need, secure the right health and medical treatments and to join in fully with care home life. Here are some ways to help visually impaired residents in 2024 and beyond.

Bring in the Braille

To mark World Braille Day 2024, why not pledge to introduce, or extend the usage of Braille in your care home as much as you can? There are so many ways in which the addition of Braille can help people with visual impairments handle life in the care home far more easily. From medication instructions to meal order forms; newsletters to carer name tags, Braille can be added to pretty much anything that is written down. Another way to integrate Braille into your operations is to send staff on training courses so that they feel comfortable communicating with residents via this versatile written language too.

Personal care

People with visual impairments often need extra help with personal care, morning and evening routines, picking out clothes etc. Always ask the person how they would like you or your care team to help them with personal care – never assume what they need. It could be something very simple, such as helping them work out what tops and skirts or trousers match each other or helping with doing up buttons or zips. Or, the support could be more substantial, helping them to the bathroom, assisting with toileting, making sure their surroundings are free from obstacles and tripping hazards etc.


Often, handling medication can be a problem for people with visual impairments, as it is harder to read dosage instructions, check for potential side -effects and work out how much medication each tablet or dosage contains. Tablets can be fiddly to handle and hard to find if dropped, even for people without sight problems. Support with all of this can be invaluable. Another way in which care staff can help people with visual impairments is during medical appointments. They can help explain charts and examination results to residents and read consultant’s reports and letters to help keep track of appointments.

Advocacy and support

Another way that care staff can help people with visual impairments can be to help them with paperwork, forms and admin jobs that will ensure they get the support and funding they need to live comfortably. This can involve applying for benefits, disability payments, grants etc. There might also be paperwork pertaining to pensions, insurances, taxes and more. The more support that people receive at the application stage, the more independence they can retain, both financially and practically. Residents may also need help to communicate their needs and preferences to other care home staff, medical professionals, family members and others. It can be a fine balance, however, between advocating for the person at their request and trying to take over too much. Always let the resident take the lead in in any and all discussions around their wellbeing and personal needs.

Help with changes in vision

Sometimes, care home residents can find themselves becoming visually impaired, or losing their sight altogether after having lived in the home for a while with far clearer sight. Some medical conditions that can involve sight loss include diabetes, glaucoma, cataracts and macular degeneration. Losing sight is a frightening prospect and one that will require a great deal of support and adjustment. Care home staff can help a lot in the early days, helping with practical adjustments such as moving furniture around, adding Braille to labels and written materials and supplying specialist equipment such as specialist lights, magnifying glasses and grab rails for walking around the room. Often, a compassionate, listening ear can be of equal or higher value as people deal with the emotions associated with losing a key sense.

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