It’s clear that some simple changes would go a long way towards making the standard of healthcare for Deaf people equivalent to what hearing people are already getting. Sick Of It, our research report into the health of Deaf people, showed that bad access, poor communication and lack of health information were leaving Deaf patients untreated and at risk of life-threatening illness.
The great news is that ending the unfairness and injustice should not require huge investments of money, and some changes will actually make savings for the NHS.
If you are part of the health service, putting yourself in a Deaf person’s shoes is a great start. Deaf patients have been demoralised by years of neglect and poor treatment. Confidence in the medical profession is low. It needs to be developed with good communications, and new ways of accessing services.
The health economic study, which was part of our research, showed that poor diagnosis and ineffective treatment of Deaf people are currently costing the NHS £30 million a year. The suffering caused to Deaf people is incalculable.
So, what can you do to help make the health service fairer for all? Take away and implement our Prescriptions For Better Healthcare.
Prescriptions For Better Healthcare
Ask Deaf patients how they would like to communicate with you and record it on their notes so that next time they make an appointment you make the best arrangements possible.
Offer online booking for appointments and SMS or email contact.
Book double-length consultations to allow for the interpretation.
Make sure you set up a system for calling patients which doesn’t rely on them hearing you calling their name.
Set-up a simple system for booking interpreters and make sure all staff know how to do it.
Take a few minutes to set-up InterpreterNow for the times when you can’t get a face-to-face interpreter quickly enough.
NEVER ask a family member to interpret.
Remember that unless your Deaf patient requests it written English is not a “reasonable adjustment” under the Equality Act.
Routinely make health information accessible to Deaf people.
Offer Deaf awareness training to all frontline staff.