Frimley Park Hospital see approximately 50 D/deaf patients every month. Many are repeat patients, who have their information flagged on the system; others are new referrals – reliant on their GPs sharing information.
It is a shocking fact that throughout the UK, deaf people are at higher risk of high blood pressure, stroke, diabetes, mental health problems to name a few, because of the barriers to communication. Deaf people do not overhear health information in the way hearing people do, they might be unaware of their medical condition, be unsure of how to take their medication, or be so frustrated with the barriers to communication that they have given up visiting the Doctor. Is this the deaf person’s fault? No!
Frimley’s Head of Diversity and Equality is committed to improving accessibility, experience and treatment of deaf patients throughout the hospital. There are already impressive systems in place, he is aware of the need to book BSL interpreters for appointments and now he wants to take steps to improve Deaf Awareness amongst all staff. Key areas being receptionists and staff working in the Emergency Room.
The first step was 3 taster sessions aimed at teaching team members who meet patients face to face. Kathleen explained the importance of asking the deaf person how they would like to communicate, general tips for communication (it is impossible to lipread a person who is talking into their keyboard,) and fingerspelling. Our hope is these sessions will empower the staff to feel more confident in communicating with deaf patients and that a little fingerspelling will make them feel more welcome and considered.
We look forward to teaching further more in depth sessions, and encourage other hospitals to follow Frimley Park’s example.