Accessible information standard impact report

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Summary of report content

Following 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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General details

Report title 
Accessible information standard impact report
Local Healthwatch 
Healthwatch Lewisham
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 
Key themes 
Communication between staff and patients
Health inequalities
Health promotion
Information providing
Healthwatch reference number 

Methodology and approach

Was the work undertaken at the request of another organisation? 
What type of organisation requested the work 
Primary research method used 
User stories
How was the information collected? 
If an Enter and View methodology was applied, was the visit announced or unannounced? 

Details of health and care services included in the report

Primary care services 
GP practice
Secondary care services 
Acute services with overnight beds
Acute services without overnight beds / listed acute services with or without overnight beds

Details of people who shared their views

Number of people who shared their views 
Age group 
Not known
Not known
Not known
Sexual orientation 
Not known
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? 

Outcomes and impact

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? 

Network Impact
Relationships that exist locally, regionally, nationally have benefited from the work undertaken in the report
Implied Impact
Where it is implied that change may occur in the future as a result of Healthwatch work. This can be implied in a provider  response, press release or other source. Implied impact can become tangible impact once change has occurred.
Tangible Impact
There is evidence of change that can be directly attributed to Healthwatch work undertaken in the report.