Sensory impairment: experiences of health services

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Summary of report content

Healthwatch Darlington undertook research on people with sensory impairments’ experience of health and social care services to support Healthwatch England’s campaign on the accessible information standard. They spoke to 14 people.

Service providers do not provide a consistent service to those with sensory impairments. Problems accessing and using health and care services leave service users frustrated and reliant upon others, causing health anxieties.

Not all services provide the support needed in terms of adaptations and accommodating communication needs. Reliance upon carers impacts the independence of service users. A lack of awareness amongst healthcare professionals, was illustrated by, but not limited to, frequent comments about mask wearing.

A lack of awareness amongst members of the public about their rights and what they should expect under the Accessible Information Standard makes it harder for individuals to know how to complain and who to complain to when they do not get the support they need.

COVID-19 has caused additional problems for those with sensory impairments, from mask wearing to navigating new one-way systems, and delays in treatment during lockdowns.

The report contains three recommendations and responses from service providers.

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General details

Report title 
Sensory impairment: experiences of health services
Local Healthwatch 
Healthwatch Darlington
Date of publication 
Wednesday, 3 August, 2022
Date evidence capture began 
Thursday, 10 February, 2022
Date evidence capture finished 
Tuesday, 22 March, 2022
Key themes 
Cleanliness hygiene and infection control
Communication between staff and patients
Health inequalities
Information providing
Quality of care
Service delivery organisation and staffing

Methodology and approach

Was the work undertaken at the request of another organisation? 
Primary research method used 
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 
Counselling/improving access to psychological therapies (IAPT)

Details about conditions and diseases

Types of disabilities 
Vision impairment
What type of pregnancy or maternity themes are included in the report 

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? 
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? 
Yes action has been taken or promised
Is there evidence of impact in the report? 
Is there evidence of impact external to the report? 
Not known
What type of impact was determined? 
Implied Impact

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.