Going to the hospital for an appointment should be a simple process. But if you have an impairment and services aren’t set up to meet your needs, that’s not always the case.
People who are deaf in Dudley told their local Healthwatch that going for medical appointments was sometimes difficult for them. They talked about their fear of missing appointments because they couldn’t hear their names being called in busy clinics, and their struggles to communicate with staff.
Healthwatch Dudley brought a group of deaf people together to find out more about their experiences and what could be done to make things better. With the support of British Sign Language interpreters, further meetings took place between people who are profoundly deaf and staff from The Dudley Group NHS Foundation Trust who were keen to listen and respond.
The group shared how the risk of missing appointments was making deaf people feel extremely anxious. It was suggested that they could be given vibrating and flashing pagers to let them know when the doctor was ready to see them. The Trust embraced the idea and pagers have now been introduced to hospital waiting areas across Dudley borough and are being used not only for deaf patients, but also for those with other sensory and physical impairments. Following presentations to Patient Participation Groups it is hoped that pagers will also be introduced to GP surgeries in the future.
The Dudley Group NHS Foundation Trust is now looking into strengthening deaf awareness training for staff. Other local organisations are also keen to work with Dudley Deaf Focus Group to see what more can be done to make services better for everyone.
Diane Wake, Chief Executive of The Dudley Group NHS Foundation Trust, said:
“Nobody is better placed to let us know how services need to change than the people who access them. We are so grateful to the people who have shared their experiences with us and helped us make services better for people with hearing impairments. We’re looking forward to continuing to work with this group to spot more opportunities to make our hospitals and any care that we provide more accessible for deaf people in Dudley.”