Summary of report content
Healthwatch Central Bedfordshire decided to investigate the experience of the D/deaf community in accessing healthcare services after being contacted by several people who had a poor experience of healthcare because they didn’t get the appropriate communication support. They spoke to 41 people in total. They also reviewed local health services website information, specifically looking at content for D/deaf users and their carers.
The research found that, despite the introduction of the Accessible Information Standard in 2016, challenges remain for D/deaf people when accessing health care. The AIS is not applied consistently across health services and indeed geographically. People have raised concerns about the disparity that they feel between area provision. The website review and feedback highlighted a lack of transparency with public facing information. If people with communication needs do not know what is on offer, it would be very challenging for them to make informed choices. Individuals need to be empowered to choose services that can meet their needs, and this will only happen if providers arrange for the most up to date information and advice to be made available in various mediums.
The report contains 7 recommendations about how healthcare providers should ensure compliance with the Accessible Information Standard, including how letters are worded, training for staff and better information on websites.