Staff in GP practices across Bedfordshire, Luton and Milton Keynes have completed Deaf Awareness Training to help improve access to healthcare for the D/deaf community.
D/deaf” is a commonly used term to capture both people who are born Deaf and those who become deaf after they are born.
Delivered to non-clinical staff working in GP practices, the training provided examples of barriers and discrimination that D/deaf and Hard of Hearing people face. It also provided an introduction to some everyday BSL signs, fingerspelling, and numbers.
The training was provided voluntarily by Access Bedford – a registered charity that works with the D/deaf and hard of hearing community to make Bedford Borough more accessible – in partnership with Bedfordshire, Luton and Milton Keynes Integrated Care Board.
Alexia Stenning, Associate Director Primary Care Commissioning and Transformation, at Bedfordshire, Luton and Milton Keynes Integrated Care Board, said: “D/deaf people in our local communities have told us that simply being D/deaf is a barrier to accessing healthcare.
“It is incredibly important that we engage with communities such as the D/deaf community to be able to understand the challenges they face and how we can improve their experience of accessing healthcare. Rolling out this training is a great example of doing just that.”
The training ensures that practices understand the Accessibility Information Standard, which sets out a specific, consistent approach to identifying, recording, flagging, sharing and meeting the information and communication support needs of patients, service users, carers and parents with a disability, impairment or sensory loss. This includes ensuring that practice staff are aware of how to book a British Sign Language (BSL) interpreter for any patients who are deaf.
Helene Bolton, Trustee at Access Bedford, said: “We are contacted by D/Deaf and Hard of Hearing people on a regular basis, looking for support to overcome issues they face when trying to access healthcare. It is vital that healthcare staff can recognise potential barriers to access and communicate with D/Deaf and Hard of Hearing people to ensure they are receiving the level of care that they deserve.
“It was great to be able to speak to over 100 non-clinical staff from across Bedfordshire, Luton and Milton Keynes. We believe that through informing and raising awareness of these issues, we can support service providers to improve their offering to D/Deaf and Hard of Hearing people.”