The fantastic work of Team UHDB to support Deaf patients, visitors and staff is being celebrated during Deaf Awareness Week, which runs from 2 – 8 May.
The theme of the awareness week this year is inclusion and the impact this can have on the mental health of Deaf patients. According to the UK Council of Deafness, “Deaf individuals often feel unsupported, unwanted, invisible, and excluded”, which can lead to a deterioration in mental health.
As these feelings can be hard to verbalise, this can present even more of a challenge to Deaf people.
Here at UHDB, we are proud to support our Deaf communities to ensure that everyone can communicate their needs in our hospitals.
British Sign Language (BSL) interpreters are on site at Royal Derby Hospital on Mondays and Fridays to provide support, with interpreters available on request at our other hospital sites.
Hospital visitors to both Royal Derby and Queen’s Hospital Burton have also benefited from our use of digital system SignLive within the department, which provides assistance via an on-screen interpreter until a face-to-face interpreter arrives. The video interpreting service is easy to use and offers a direct link to an interpreter 24 hours a day, with frontline staff able to access the service via an electronic tablet located within their department.
Staff in our Emergency Department at Royal Derby Hospital have all also had basic BSL and Deaf awareness training to help ensure the best possible experience for our Deaf patients and visitors.
UHDB has also enrolled interns from Project Search, an international programme supporting young people with learning Disabilities, such as Deafness, to gain skills and experience to help them secure paid employment. Two previous interns who were with us in 2019, Ryan and Imogen, have since gone on to gain full time employment in Derby.
Supporting our Deaf communities starts from the very beginning of a patient’s journey with us, with a dedicated team of New Born Hearing Screeners ensuring that any potential issues with hearing in babies are spotted as early as possible.
Katherine Preston, Senior New Born Hearing Screener, said: “We work hard to ensure we identify and screen all eligible new born babies before they leave the hospital.
“Finding out your baby is Deaf or has a problems with their hearing can be hard for parents, and of course patients, to process as we often assume the baby’s hearing will be fine, especially as the vast majority of babies born with hearing difficulties are born into families who haven’t experienced this before.
“We work really hard to ensure our communication with these families and patients is as clear as it can be as we know how important it is that these patients feel they can contribute and they’re not isolated in any way.”
To ensure we are all communicating in the best way with Deaf patients and colleagues, Katherine has the following advice: “There are some really simple things we can all do to aid our communication, such as speaking as we normally would, not too fast or too slow, and ensuring you’re facing the person you’re speaking to and that they can see your mouth to help them lip read.
“Using your hands to point at things you’re talking about is another great way to create more clarity, but the most important thing is not to give up and to keep trying. Writing things down on your phone or on paper is a really useful tool and if we can all keep these things in mind, it will help Deaf people to understand and be understood and feel included.”
UHDB’s ThisAbility staff network is there to support colleagues with ‘hidden Disabilities’ including Deafness. If you would like to join the ThisAbility staff Facebook group, you can do so here (opens in new window) >