‘Out of Sight but not Out of Mind’ is a Course to raise awareness of Charles Bonnet Syndrome (CBS) for caregivers, sensory workers, social workers, rehabilitation officers, ECLOS, patient-facing practitioners and therapists of all specialties.  

CBS develops when someone of any age – children too – is losing sight. This loss can be caused by one of the many eye conditions, cancer of the eye, an accident to the eye, stroke, diabetes, multiple sclerosis, or another condition which damages the optic nerve. It is an extremely common, but little recognised condition, which affects, at least, 1 million people in the UK.

CBS causes vivid, silent, visual hallucinations that range from disturbing to terrifying. It is not a mental health condition but caused entirely by the unoccupied brain firing up and creating its own images. Even if these images are not unpleasant, the frequency and unpredictable nature of CBS episodes impact negatively on quality of life.

Too many healthcare professionals of all specialties are unaware of CBS and should a client with sight loss mention visual hallucinations, the door to the mental health pathway opens. This not only wastes precious NHS resources but causes even more distress to the person.

Esme’s Umbrella is already training ophthalmic nurses to become Specialist CBS nurses and is now offering a one-hour training session on-line after which badges and certificates will be awarded. If the caregivers work in a Care or Nursing Home, Esme’s Umbrella encourages them to display a ‘Charles Bonnet Syndrome’ notice to show that the Home is CBS-friendly and any questions about the condition can be answered by members of staff.

The course

The course covers an explanation of CBS, how to broach the subject with clients, how to reassure and comfort, what images are seen, case studies, coping strategies, medical information about medication which can be tried and medication (taken for other conditions) which should be avoided because it makes CBS worse, current CBS research – with a Q and A at the end.

For more information about ‘Out of Sight but not out of Mind’, please contact Judith Potts via judith@charlesbonnetsyndrome.uk