These blog posts have been written in support of Deaf Awareness Week 2019: Celebrating Role Models. You can find out more about Deaf Awareness Week and read blog posts by our other role models here.
Tom Speirs – Housing Support Worker
My name is Tom. I am a Housing Support Worker for SignHealth and have worked for the charity for almost 13 years now. As a Housing Support Worker, I would describe my role as being ‘empathic’ towards clients. I currently work with 6 tenants who live in a residential home and have various degree of mental health & learning difficulties, so it is important that these tenants have assistants to ensure they have the regular support they need. As part of my role I will attend handover meetings and will work with tenants to prepare them to receive their medications and I will assist them to attend various appointments they may have.
I work closely with my fantastic colleagues where we will discuss about tenant’s plan for the day which will include medications order, healthy meal plans, activities or appointment schedules. We do risk assessment of the tenants’ abilities so access if they can do activities independently or if a member of staff needs to give them guidelines and support. As a team we believe in the philosophy of Independent, Respect, Value, Support, Privacy and Choice.
A challenge we face is educating the tenants about looking after themselves through healthy meal plans and it is my reasonability to assist them to make healthy choices. There are many rewards to my job, being a very small team in Claridge Road, it is really great to see our contributions are noticed and we receive positive compliments on our work by other professionals’ projects such as mental health hospitals and social services. It is rewarding to encourage tenants to be positive about themselves and to get involved in activities and programs such as like Deaf Club, college and volunteer work. Deaf Awareness Week is great way to help break down communication barriers! We need to educate other professionals to book interpreters, and we also need funding
for our staff to access interpreters and training so we can continue to deliver our services.
SignHealth to me is very valuable for the Deaf community for both staff team and tenants. We have a good reputation from other professional projects, and I would not be able to give my skills and knowledge to tenants if it was not for SignHealth.
Samantha Pearsall – Service Manager
My name is Samantha Pearsall I am a very active member of the deaf community and have been all my life. I went to a deaf school because I had a role model in my older brother, who is also deaf. I moved to Manchester in 2008, where I started working in health care (forensic mental health). During my time living in Manchester I identified with the LGBT community (transgender female), and I am known in the deaf community for advocating for the deaf, transgender community. I am very proud to be a BSL user with a very strong deaf identity.
As a Service Manager at SignHealth Bowfell Road, I am responsible for the residential home and outreach service which covers Greater Manchester. I am responsible for the smooth running of the house and to ensure we put our residents at the heart of everything we do. It is also my responsibility to lead staff and make sure they feel confident to carry out their duties. Within the organisation it is great to see such a wealth of diversity and experience, this means I always look forward to coming to work knowing that as a team we are contributing in supporting resident’s wellbeing. Some days can be challenging, others can be steady and there’s a lot of requirement for prioritising and juggling as we always must be prepared for the unexpected.
I always aim for an organised routine, but at times this can be overhauled by an incident. It is in my nature to put the residents first to ensure they are cared for. We have seen many improvements to the premises to ensure we can deliver our service, and this has been beneficial for our residents which was nice to see.
Deaf Awareness Week is an opportunity to raise the profile of the deaf community and recognition of BSL. Seeing the Scottish BSL bill approved has made me realise Deaf Awareness Week can slowly make ripples toward a similar thing happening in England.
SignHeath is a very proud organisation to be a member in. The widespread ethos within the organisation is clearly to improve the lives of deaf people for the better and to remove barriers. There is also the confidence that if you meet a colleague from another area, there is a likelihood that they can sign, which is a very positive thing.
For information about SignHealth’s residential homes please visit the webpage.