Covid-19 – how we can help

The supports that we provide may be needed more than ever in these uncertain and challenging times. Our support team is working hard and we intend to maintain our support for people living with sight loss, and their families, over the coming weeks.

As the situation regarding Covid-19 changes regularly, information is vital and we are working to ensure people living with sight loss are kept informed and have access to help.

We’ve compiled a list of how we can continue to help you during this time. We’re also routinely providing resources across our social media channels:

Facebook
Twitter
LinkedIn
Instagram

A message from Kevin Whelan, CEO of Fighting Blindness:

As Covid-19 spreads throughout the country, our everyday lives have changed unimaginably. I wish you and your loved ones the best of health. Follow official guidance and encourage others to do so too.

Our team is adapting to the crisis. We transitioned to telephone based work for all of our existing clients. We moved our other support services to online options that will enable people to connect and interact.

Through our work, we are aware that the issues of anxiety and isolation are already issues for those who we support.  We recognise that the current situation is likely to pose additional challenges for those living with sight loss and their families. 

As the period of social distancing is likely to extend, we are confident that we can look at creative ways of using technology to provide as many viable avenues for information, support and connection for those who require it.


Clinical appointments and hospital eye care services

We recommend patients check with their eye doctor or their clinic directly to confirm if there will be any changes to appointments, now or in the future. If you notice any significant changes in your vision contact your ophthalmologist immediately. Information on the steps taken by the Royal Victoria Eye and Ear Clinic can be found on their website. Updates from the Mater Hospital Dublin can be found on their website.


Fighting Blindness supports

Our telephone line and email inbox are monitored during our working hours of 9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday. 

 

Online ‘Living with Sight Loss’ course – for individuals, friends and family

Our popular Living with Sight Loss course is also available in an online format. The online version explores the same range of topics as the face to face Living with Sight Loss courses. This includes mobility and daily living, emotional wellbeing, eye health, peer support and assistive technology. The online course can be taken at your own pace, in the comfort of your own home.

Close family or friends have also found this course useful in understanding how they can support their loved one. Also, many individuals who work with those with sight loss have taken this course and found it to be an invaluable learning resource. To sign up, visit our Need to Talk page.

Online ‘Emotional Support Vision Champions’ course

Become a Emotional Support Vision Champion! As an Emotional Support Vision Champion, you can help someone come to terms with the impact of sight loss.

Champions are able to empathise with a person experiencing sight loss and have an understanding of their emotions. They also have knowledge of the services available to people affected by sight loss, and can provide support and information.

The ‘Emotional Support Vision Champions’ course is for people working with or supporting those affected by sight loss including:

  • Ophthalmologists and optometrists
  • Eye Clinic Liaison Officers
  • Health and social care staff
  • Mental Health Professionals
  • Allied health staff
  • Primary health care staff
  • Volunteers
  • Educational staff
  • Community and voluntary service providers
  • Public service providers

This free, short online course is designed to be completed in 80 minutes and certification is provided. Further Information is available on our Need to Talk page.

Counselling

Although we have ceased all face to face services, we have always offered confidential telephone counselling as an alternative option.

If you have any questions relating to our Insight Counselling and Support Service, you can email insight@fightingblindness.ie or call 01 674 6496.  Our Support Service and Insight Counselling team are monitoring our phones and emails through working remotely. We will try to respond as quickly as possible.

Check-in service

If you’d like the comfort of having a regular phone-call to help you stay connected but don’t want to take part in counselling, we can arrange a time for one of our team to call you. They will check in on how you’re coping and provide help to find appropriate resources. To request this service, email insight@fightingblindness.ie call 01 674 6496.

Connections Coffee Morning 

To combat isolation during this difficult time, we’ve established a virtual coffee morning. The Connections Coffee Morning is for those who wish to spend an hour and a half meeting individuals online, having a coffee/tea from their home, connecting with others and having the opportunity to just chat.

Our first Connections Coffee Morning will take place between 10.30am to 12 noon on Tuesday 7 April. Please contact our support team on 01 674 6496 or insight@fightingblindness.ie if you’d like to register to attend.

Peer support groups 

In addition to individual services, we offer peer support groups for people with a visual impairment to share their feelings and experiences with others facing the same challenges.

These support groups are now meeting online on a monthly basis. If you’re interested in taking part online, please email insight@fightingblindness.ie or call 01 674 6496.

If you have any concerns or questions about the technology involved, our team will talk you through the process of joining.

Technology Exchange Club

The Technology Exchange Club is now meeting online. The Club is an informal gathering of people living with sight loss who wish to improve their daily lives through assistive technology. This support has become particularly relevant in recent times.

If you would like to take part, email insight@fightingblindness.ie or call 01 674 6496 and we’ll talk you through the process of joining.

Mindfulness group

If you are interested in or are already practicing mindfulness in your daily routine you can join our Mindfulness group online every Wednesday from 11am to 12 noon. If you would like to take part, email insight@fightingblindness.ie call 01 674 6496.


External supports 

National mental health resources

St. Patrick’s Mental Health Services compiled a useful list of national organisations that can provide specific support at this time, as well as a number of helpful articles on managing your emotional health.

As we all become increasingly aware of the steps to take to remain in good physical health, it is important to remember to mind our mental health too. As most face to face options for support are now temporarily on hold, please see the following list compiled by the HSE for online support for a range of emotional and mental health issues.

Loneliness in older individuals

Seniorline is a national confidential listening service for older people provided by trained older volunteers.  Their lines are open every day from 10am to 10pm, 365 days a year. Seniorline remains open when many statutory services are closed and is recognised as a primary health care service helping to support older people in their community. Call freephone 1800 80 45 91 or visit the Third Age Ireland website.

ALONE have announced a national support line and additional supports and outreach for older people. Contact ALONE on 0818 222 024 if you have concerns about your own wellbeing, or the wellbeing of an older person you know. Further information can be found on the ALONE website.