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Exploring Professionals’ Experiences in the Rehabilitation of Older Clients with Dual-Sensory Impairment

  • Sarah A. Fraser (a1), Kenneth E. Southall (a2) and Walter Wittich (a3)


To better understand and improve the rehabilitation process of older adults with sensory losses in both hearing and vision or dual sensory impairment (DSI), this study explored the perspectives of health care professionals who work with this population. Thirteen individuals, with varied professional backgrounds, were interviewed about their experiences in working with older adults with DSI. We transcribed and coded the interviews, then conducted content analysis. Regardless of their professional backgrounds, the participants reported additional roles that they perceived they fulfilled: (a) counsellor, (b) navigator, and (c) trainer and re-trainer. These roles involved helping individuals with DSI, and their family, with depression, acceptance, repeat consultations, and way-finding through the health system. From the professionals’ perspective, these additional roles increase workload and place them in situations they were not trained for. They suggest education for all professionals and for family members working with people with DSI; moreover, they suggest a multidisciplinary team rehabilitation approach.

En vue de mieux comprendre et d’améliorer le processus de réadaptation des personnes âgées présentant à la fois une déficience auditive et visuelle, soit une double déficience sensorielle (DDS), cette étude s’est penchée sur les perspectives des professionnels de la santé qui œuvrent chez cette population. Treize professionnels aux parcours variés ont été interviewés en lien avec leur expérience de travail auprès de personnes âgées avec DDS. Les entrevues ont été transcrites et codées, et une analyse de contenu a été effectuée. Les participants des diverses professions ont perçu qu’ils devaient assumer les rôles additionnels suivants : (1) conseiller, (2) guide, (3) formateur ou rééducateur. Ces rôles consistaient à aider les personnes avec DDS et leurs familles présentant une dépression, des problèmes d’acceptation, des consultations répétées et des parcours complexes dans le système de santé. Selon les professionnels interviewés, ces rôles supplémentaires accroissent leur charge de travail et les confrontent à des problématiques pour lesquelles ils n’ont pas reçu de formation. Ils suggèrent l’implantation d’une formation sur les DDS pour les professionnels et les membres de la famille concernés, ainsi qu’une approche de réadaptation en équipe multidisciplinaire.

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This is an Open Access article, distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution licence (, which permits unrestricted re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Corresponding author

La correspondance et les demandes de tirés-à-part doivent être adressées à : / Correspondence and requests for offprints should be sent to: Sarah A. Fraser, Ph.D. Interdisciplinary School of Health SciencesFaculty of Health Sciences25 University PrivateUniversity of OttawaOttawa, ON K1N 6N5 (


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This work was supported by a provincial grant from the Ministère de la famille et des ainés (Québec).



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