Background: there is a significant gap in the understanding, assessment and management of people with dementia and concurrent hearing and vision impairments.
Objective: from the perspective of professionals in dementia, hearing and vision care, we aimed to: (1) explore the perceptions of gaps in assessment and service provision in ageing-related hearing, vision and cognitive impairment; (2) consider potential solutions regarding this overlap and (3) ascertain the attitudes, awareness and practice, with a view to implementing change.
Methods: our two-part investigation with hearing, vision, and dementia care professionals involved: (1) an in-depth, interdisciplinary, international Expert Reference Group (ERG; n = 17) and (2) a wide-scale knowledge, attitudes and practice survey (n = 653). The ERG involved consensus discussions around prototypic clinical vignettes drawn from a memory centre, an audiology clinic, and an optometry clinic, analysed using an applied content approach.
Results: the ERG revealed several gaps in assessment and service provision, including a lack of validated assessment tools for concurrent impairments, poor interdisciplinary communication and care pathways, and a lack of evidence-based interventions. Consensus centred on the need for flexible, individualised, patient-centred solutions, using an interdisciplinary approach. The survey data validated these findings, highlighting the need for clear guidelines for assessing and managing concurrent impairments.
Conclusions: this is the first international study exploring professionals' views of the assessment and care of individuals with age-related hearing, vision and hearing impairment. The findings will inform the adaptation of assessments, the development of supportive interventions, and the new provision of services.
Keywords: cognitive impairment; dementia; expert reference group; hearing; older people; vision.
© The Author(s) 2019. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the British Geriatrics Society.