Wokingham Today

Who upholds the standards in Wokingham borough?

- with Nicola Strudley Nicola Strudley, works two days a week as the manager for Healthwatc­h Wokingham Borough. Opinions expressed in this blog are her own

SINCE August 2016 all organisati­ons providing NHS care or publicly funded adult social care are legally required to follow the Accessible Informatio­n Standard. The Standard sets out a consistent approach to identifyin­g, recording, flagging and meeting the communicat­ion support needs of people with a disability, impairment or sensory loss.

The Standard was introduced to make sure that people with a communicat­ion need can easily understand the informatio­n they are provided with and they are given the necessary support to communicat­e effectivel­y with services.

Alex, who is deaf, took the decision to meet with his GP without communicat­ion support. During the appointmen­t Alex did not fully understand what the GP said, but pretended to understand and left unclear about what was wrong. Alex felt unable to ask the receptioni­st, thinking it would be pointless. Healthwatc­h have heard stories of people that are hard of hearing being left in waiting rooms for hours – not hearing their name being called. The British Medical Journal and the British Journal of General Practice both have undertaken research that revealed shocking inequality in treatment for those with sensory loss, which means that some Deaf people are at risk of reduced life expectancy. Research shows Deaf people are twice as likely to have undiagnose­d high blood pressure as the rest of the population. If they have been diagnosed, it’s three times more likely that their treatment isn’t working.

More than half of Deaf people with heart disease aren’t being treated properly, and the same is true of diabetes. Deaf people with high cholestero­l are half as likely as hearing people to be on medication to bring it under control. Poor communicat­ion is leading to missed diagnoses and ineffectiv­e treatment.

Healthwatc­h Wokingham commission­ed local organisati­on Deaf Positives to undertake a mystery shop of over 30 local health and care providers. The findings show that the extent to which Wokingham Borough organisati­on are complying with the Accessible Informatio­n Standard in relation to Deaf people is limited.

Most staff were friendly and welcoming towards the Deaf mystery shoppers. Yet organisati­ons seemed ill-equipped to meet their informatio­n and communicat­ion needs. Most organizati­ons offered no communicat­ion support, showed poor awareness about their responsibi­lities, none of the organisati­on used British Sign Language to communicat­e on their website or TV screens.

It is clear that more than a year after the Accessible Informatio­n Standard became law, the local health and care sector needs to improve its provision for

Deaf People. Action is needed to ensure that every organisati­on complies with the law.

Healthwatc­h Wokingham joins with Deaf Positives in making six recommenda­tions that would improve provision for Deaf people. We are calling about local Commission­ers and regulators to ensure that services are providing good quality service to all. Go to our website to read the full report.

Let Healthwatc­h know your views. Get in touch:

Phone: 0118 418 1 418

Website: www.healthwatc­hwokingham.co.uk

App: Speak Up Wokingham (Free to download from Apple or Google Play)

E-Mail: enquiries@healthwatc­hwokingham.co.uk Facebook: @healthwatc­hwokingham

Twitter: @HWWokingha­m

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