What to do if you have a patient who is visually impaired

April 18, 2010

If you need to move furniture, water pitcher, personal belongings, always put the object back where it was.  If you can’t, be sure the patient knows what you have done.

Painting the doorframes a dark color would provide good contrast for a person with some vision.

Control glare in the room by adjusting the shades as necessary.

Let the patient know where the food is on the tray either by describing it using a clock system or show them using the silverware in their hands.

Try to use contrast on the tray. If the dishes are a dark color, a white placemat under them may help the person find their plate.  Black coffee is more visible in a light colored mug.  Coffee with milk is more visible in a dark colored mug.

Talking books, Audio books or a Maine Airs receiver in a persons’ room may be a welcome change from watching television.

Don’t point when giving directions; instead, use words like “right” or “left.”  Remember that when you are facing a person, your right is his/her left.  Always give directions according to their orientation.

Don’t be afraid to use words like “look”, “see” or “watch”. Changing your vocabulary will make the person feel awkward.

Usually there is no need to speak loudly to people who are blind or visually impaired; in most cases their hearing is just fine!

Use Sighted Guide technique, when walking with people for exercise.

Ask the patient how you can assist them, rather than assuming you know what  they need.

When walking with a person in the hallway, refer to points of orientation as we would (ie: walk out of your room and turn left, the nurses station is on your right…).

Click here for information on Sighted Guide Techniques from the Braille Institute

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