Summary of report contentFollowing the introduction of the NHS Accessible Information Standard (AIS) on 31st July 20161 , Healthwatch Lewisham embarked on a project to assess the impact on local patient experience, and to assess local implementation of the standard. The aim of the AIS is to ensure that people with a disability or sensory loss are given information in a way they can understand. It is now the law for the NHS and adult social care services to comply with the standard. This report summarises the findings of experience of local patients in the relation to the AIS. To collect experiences, Healthwatch Lewisham conducted focused engagement with organisations supporting people with sensory loss, people with learning disabilities and representatives of those groups. In total, we spoke to 76 people and engaged with eight organisations and community groups including: SELVIS, Headlines, Headway SELNWK, Wheels for Wellbeing, Feeling the Noise, Social eyes, Lewisham Deaf Community Association, Action for Hearing Loss and Lewisham Speaking Up. The main findings found many people with additional communication needs may not have the confidence to assert their needs or ask for help. Many may not be aware of patient choice or have access to relevant information. People, especially those with long-term conditions requiring frequent contact with services, feel they often repeat themselves to the same providers and need to re-explain their communication needs. A system that flags up their communication needs at a point of contact, as suggested by the AIS, would help to improve their experience and enable easier communication. Many disabled people are continuing to be contacted by means that are not accessible for them, such as small print letters for people with sight loss and using the telephone to contact deaf people. Some people with sight loss rely on other people to read out letters for them which may result in missed appointments and cause a delay of treatment. Provision of the accessible communication between patient and the service is vital in ensuring equity of access. People with sensory loss or learning difficulties reported that the process of getting to their appointment from the reception area posed a great barrier. Many felt lost and confused, especially in larger waiting areas shared by many clinics and services and had difficulty orientating themselves. People would value large print information provided on medicines with a minimum of font size 18. This would benefit people with sight loss and people with learning disabilities to better self manage their health and prevent any safeguarding concerns. Many people with sight loss appreciated emails and texts instead of receiving letters. Deaf people reported difficulties in accessing Sign Language interpreters, for example during social care assessments or during medical appointments. A system where a deaf person receives a confirmation of the interpreter being booked would be helpful, as well as fast-track appointments if the cancellation was due to lack of an interpreter. People born deaf may have low literacy skills and especially require the presence of a Sign Language interpreter. Alternative methods such as using pen and paper to communicate in writing or typing using computers may depend on the individual’s literacy skills and may not be suitable. People with sight loss experienced difficulties in University Hospital Lewisham around food and medicine. Some of the issues reported were being unable to read the menu or not knowing whether their food or drink had arrived. They also explained that they were not being made aware when medicines were being delivered to them. People with severe communication needs rely on carers support and value help in supporting their communication.
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Accessible information standard impact report
Date of publication
Friday, 1 June, 2018
Date evidence capture began
Friday, 1 June, 2018
Date evidence capture finished
Friday, 1 June, 2018
Type of report
Communication between staff and patients
Healthwatch reference number
Was the work undertaken at the request of another organisation?
What type of organisation requested the work
Primary research method used
How was the information collected?
If an Enter and View methodology was applied, was the visit announced or unannounced?
Primary care services
Secondary care services
Acute services with overnight beds
Acute services without overnight beds / listed acute services with or without overnight beds
Number of people who shared their views
Does the information include public's views?
Does the information include carer's, friend's or relative's views?
Does the information include staff's views?
Types of health and care professionals engaged
Does the information include other people's views?
What was the main sentiment of the people who shared their views?
Were recommendations made by local Healthwatch in the report?
Does the information contain a response from a provider?
Is there evidence of impact in the report?
Is there evidence of impact external to the report?