The Scottish Government is committed to supporting children and adults who have hearing loss, sight loss and dual sensory loss to access the health services and social care they need and to have the same access to employment, education and leisure as everyone else through its National See Hear Strategy.
See Hear provides a strategic framework of action for meeting the needs of people with a sensory impairment against a background of increasing demand, requirements for greater efficiency and effectiveness, and Health and Social Care Integration. It is designed to act as a lever for change, and facilitate that change across multiple agencies and services. Since publication in 2014, the Scottish Government has provided funding to establish and support a national network of See Hear Leads and local partnerships between statutory and third sector organisations, across every local authority area in Scotland.
This funding is used to help achieve the recommendations set out in the strategy, and these are implemented via the local partnerships. The Partnership Leads Network is facilitated and supported by the National Co-ordinator for See Hear, who regularly meet to share progress, ideas and best practice.
In addition, the Scottish Government provides funding for the Scottish Sensory Hub, based in the ALLIANCE. The hub hosts the See Hear National Coordinator, along with Deaf Scotland, and the Scottish Council on Visual Impairment (SCOVI). Its role is to facilitate collaboration between the Deaf, Deafened, Hard of Hearing, Deafblind and Sight Loss sectors and develop a rich resource base of expertise, skills and knowledge for people with sensory loss and those who work in this field and will signpost to local pathways of support and services.
The Scottish Government also continues to fund and support the contact SCOTLAND - BSL online interpreting Video Relay Service, which enables Deaf and Deafblind British Sign Language (BSL) users to telephone, via video relay interpreters, private sector numbers as well as statutory and third sector numbers, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.
The timely provision of appropriate equipment is crucial in terms of effectively delivering the strategic objectives of the See Hear strategy. As with people with all other needs, equipment can make a significant difference, helping people to fulfil their potential, and actively participate in employment, education, and in their everyday activities, supporting their overall well-being.
Fire Safety Alarms
Appropriate specialist alarms can also help ensure people with sensory loss are kept safe in their home. The Housing (Scotland) Act 1987 (Tolerable Standard) (Extension of Criteria) Order 2019 brought in a requirement for all homes in Scotland to have interlinked alarms.
By February 2022 every home must have:
- one smoke alarm in the living room or the room you use most;
- one smoke alarm in every hallway or landing;
- one heat alarm in the kitchen.
All smoke and heat alarms should be mounted on the ceiling and be interlinked.
If there is a carbon-fuelled appliance – like a boiler, fire, heater or flue – in any room, there must also be a carbon monoxide detector in that room, but this does not need to be linked to the fire alarms.
Although the legislation does not refer to specialist alarms, it is important to highlight that existing Deaf alert systems are not compatible with the new interlinked products. Therefore, if a homeowner has an existing specialist alarm, they will need to contact their local Health & Social care, Sensory impairment services, to seek advice on which type of new system they will require to purchase, so that they select a system which will also provide them with the option for new compatible specialist deaf alarms, which can then be installed by the local services.
This will avoid having to have two separate systems, and any confusion that may cause, and ensure that they are protected. There are companies which manufacture compatible specialist accessories already available.
Local health and social care partnership Sensory Impairment services, and community equipment services, should review the compatibility of their specialist alarms to the new interlinked systems, so that they can advise service users as required.
In terms of overall responsibilities, IAs and their Community Equipment services should ensure that they work with relevant stakeholders, and have effective pathways in place which meet the key equipment needs of people with sensory loss, and offer streamlined access to a range of appropriate equipment as part of the core equipment service provision
- Health & Social care services and their Community Equipment services should ensure that they work with relevant stakeholders and have effective pathways in place which meet the equipment needs of people with sensory loss
- This should include the provision of streamlined access to a core range of appropriate equipment for both hearing and visual impairment.
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