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MiP Awards news – improving access for disabled patients

14 August 2008

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The shortlists for the MiP Awards 2008 have now been decided. It was a tough process as the standard was extremely high and judges were spoilt for choice.

However, after much debate the final nominees in each category have been chosen, and we will be highlighting these projects over the next eight weeks in the run-up to the Awards ceremony taking place at the MiP Event in Birmingham on 8 October.

To start off we look at one project that managed to get shortlisted in two categories – Customer care and Innovation in training.

The Hunter Family Practice in Craigavon in Northern Ireland wanted to improve access for all their disabled patients. However, the team’s aim was to go beyond what they are obliged to do under disability legislation and make the practice a lot more welcoming and user-friendly for these patients.

Northern Ireland now has upwards of 250,000 deaf or hard-of-hearing people, and this figure is set to rise as the population lives longer. The practice therefore decided to improve access to their services for their deaf and hard-of-hearing patients.

Not content with doing things by half, the team decided to attempt to achieve the RNID “Louder than Words” Charter, which they did, becoming the only GP surgery in the UK to hold the award. In order to achieve this a number of initiatives were introduced into the practice, including:

  • Installation of flashing lights linked to the alarm system within the health centre to alert deaf people if evacuation of the health centre is necessary due to fire or other danger.
  • All members of the team attended an “Introduction to Signing” course.
  • Two members of staff commenced a BSL Level 1 course (1 year) at a local college.
  • Seven members of the reception and switchboard staff completed Typetalk/Textphone training.
  • Induction Loops were installed in all consulting rooms and for both reception areas.
  • A new digital TV (with teletext to enable use of subtitles) was purchased for the waiting room.
  • A visual patient call system was installed in the waiting room.
  • A deaf/hard-of-hearing register was compiled, with computerised flagging of patient records to alert staff if a patient has a hearing problem.
  • A simple card call system was introduced for deaf patients attending the treatment room so that the nurse can easily identify and call the patient without causing embarrassment.

The practice has also produced a “Deaf Related Information Pack” to assist reception staff when dealing with a deaf or hard-of-hearing patients.

“This was a really rewarding process for all concerned,” says Lorraine Huges, practice manager. “It brought us all together, working as a team, and everyone was very enthusiastic about it. It was motivating, and brought us great job satisfaction. The process has made us all more aware of how we communicate with each other and with our patients. We would recommend this to anyone.”

After the success of this project the practice now intend to turn their attention to their blind and visually impaired patients, and those patients with learning disabilities and long-term mental health problems.

MiP Awards 2008