FACS specialises in accessibility and communication strategies for people within the diversity of deafblindness.
Nikola worked for over ten years as a deafblind specialist assessor under Section 7 (2001) of the Local Authority Act (1970), for Deafblind UK, within Brighton and Hove Adult Social Care.
This role enabled her to establish strong links and working partnerships within many teams across social care, health, statutory and voluntary sector organisations. This has led to identifying and developing a range of services, initiatives and projects that enable and support deafblind people
In 2012, Nikola consolidated her skills and professional practice to focus on the highly individual and unique communication needs of deafblind people. The core of Nikola’s expertise is how we can effectively communicate across the spectrum of deafblind people to enable their autonomy, choice, control and dignity.
She has designed a range of Communication Workshops that asks us to consider how the loss of effective communication can impact and undermine health and well-being, self-esteem, mental health and quality of life. The workshops explore perceptions of loss and change and how to support staff to identify deafblind people and enhance their skills, awareness and confidence to use effective communication strategies, understanding that the quality of their communication relationships can impact on interaction and intervention.
The biggest impact for Nikola over the years is how isolating deafblindness can be. Her Deafblind Studies Practice Dissertation in 2008, Isolation is not an Option – Development of Social Inclusion Groups for People who have Dual Sensory Loss, explored the challenges and barriers faced by many deafblind people participating in mainstream services. Recognising that specialist services are crucial to enable deafblind people to lead lives that they want and help alleviate social isolation
Nikola facilitated a successful social and self-help group for a range of deafblind people for over 8 years in Brighton and Hove. The main benefits of these groups were to reduce social isolation, develop confidence, provide peer group support, build supportive relationships and provide respite for carers and families. Nikola is committed to continuing to work with deafblind people and their families at grassroots level.
Nikola’s other specialist interest is working with older people with age-related combined sight and hearing loss, although this is by far the largest group in the deafblind population, it is a group that has been largely ignored until now and is often seen as a hidden disability. A group whose communication needs are often overlooked and not seen as important, resulting in people not receiving the specialist support and intervention they need.
Nikola’s Professional Qualifications; Professional Memberships; Skills and Courses
2006-2008 – Deafblind Studies at Birmingham University
- University Certificate in Deafblind Studies Level 7 SCQF
- University Diploma in Deafblind Studies Level 8 SCQF
- Modules in Dual Sensory Impairment , Communication, Mobility and Orientation, Professional Practice, Sensory Integration
- Practice Dissertation: “Isolation is not an Option” exploring Developing of Social inclusion Projects for Older People with Dual Sensory Loss.
Professional Membership and Project Group Involvement
- Deafblind Services Steering Group Brighton and Hove – Chair.
- Royal Sussex County Hospital (RSCH) 3T’s (Teaching, Trauma and Tertiary Care) Hospital Redevelopment – Public and Patient Design Panel.
- Practitioners Alliance of Safeguarding Adults (PASA) Working Group Brighton and Hove: Nikola’s role is safeguarding around deafblindness issues.
- Brighton and Sussex University Hospital (BSUH) NHS Trust Patients Experience Panel: Nikola’s role is advisor on Deafblind issues in a hospital environment.
- Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCG) – Consultation Review Process.
- Dignity in Care Champion – National Network.
- Member of Sense.