Sensory Impairment

‘Sensory impairment is the common term used to describe: Deafness, blindness, visual impairment, hearing impairment and Deafblindness. Sensory impairment is when one of your senses; sight, hearing, smell, touch, taste and spatial awareness, is no longer normal. Examples of this include; if you wear glasses you have a sight impairment, and/or if you find it hard to hear or have a hearing aid then you have a hearing impairment. A person does not have to have full loss of a sense to be sensory impaired’.

Sensory impairment can have a significant impact upon the life of an individual and can cause emotional and psychological difficulties, and people living with a sensory impairment are more likely to have depression, isolation and also a loss of confidence and independence. Sensory impairment places strain upon the health, social and the economic needs of both individuals and society in general.


  • Low vision, cataracts, macular degeneration and glaucoma are all predicted to rise – substantially so as the population ages.  Numbers are available in the linked document (Ophthalmology HNA, 2010).
  • That trend is also likely in the hard of hearing, although accurately modelled numbers are not available.
  • The majority of people with hearing loss are older people many of whom may already be struggling with daily living/personal care tasks so early intervention can be a key factor in reducing subsequent health and social care dependency. Numbers are increasing.
  • The numbers of people with dual sensory impairment / deafblindness also increase with an ageing population. The Department of Health (DoH) definition clearly describes the functional difficulties arising.

Sensory Impairment- Symbols


Comparison to Other Local Authorities

Comparing Wakefield to other LA’s and England.

Comparative data is not available for Wakefield in 2008 (many fields are not available), but there is such data for 2006. Wakefield reports exceptionally low across all additional disability categories in comparison to other Yorkshire & Humber districts. This may be a reporting issue, rather than a genuine difference in associated need (Ophthalmology HNA, 2010).

In comparison to other areas, Wakefield district is not estimated (by the National Eye Health Epidemiology Model (NEHEM) modeller) to have a higher level of ophthalmological need than that of other SHA organisations. While prevalence estimates are relatively close between neighbouring areas, Wakefield is consistently regarded as having a lower level of need on each of the NEHEM outputs. While some of this difference can be perhaps attributed to having comparatively fewer residents from ethnic minority backgrounds, reliability of the modeller will always be subject to questioning (Ophthalmology HNA, 2010).

Service Provision


Visual Impairment in the Elderly: Impact on Functional Ability and Quality of Life
Wakefield Deaf Community Health Needs Assessment Report, 2014
Universal eye health: a global action plan 2014–2019
Eye Health Needs Assessment


Visual Impairment

An impairment of visual function which cannot be improved by the use of corrective lenses to a level that would normally be acceptable for reading.

Hearing Impairment

The United Nations World Health Organisation (WHO)
defines hearing impairment as the complete or partial loss of the ability to hear from one or both ears and can be graded as mild, moderate, severe or profound.

Primary Support Reason

The Primary Support Reason describes why the individual requires social care support; the primary disability / impairment impacting on the individual’s quality of life and creating a need for support and assistive care. The primary support reason should be identified and recorded at the point of assessment, and then any changes recorded during subsequent reviews. Examples and descriptions of the Primary Support Reason categories are provided earlier within this framework.