Access Denied in Worcestershire
By Vicki Carrabin, Communication Manager
Deaf Direct, together with Healthwatch Worcestershire, held a conference last week entitled Access Denied. The conference was aimed at health and social care professionals in Worcestershire to inform them about the difficulties deaf and hard of hearing people have when accessing their services. It was also a celebration of the 20th anniversary of Communication Services provided by Deaf Direct in Worcestershire.
Presentations were given by staff members, Robin Caley (the Deaf Direct Chair) and Jo Ringshall, Director of Healthwatch, about the issues faced by deaf and hard of hearing people every day. Deaf people were also present at the conference, and described their own experiences. Deaf Direct staff and volunteers manned information stands, showcasing the services we offer and giving advice.
The Access Denied event was attended by the Lord Mayor of Worcester, Councillor Alan Amos, along with staff from Worcestershire Acute Hospitals NHS Trust and Worcestershire County Council.
Participants were asked to fill out a pledge to say what they were going to do in their work place to ensure access for deaf and hard of hearing people is improved.
Healthwatch Worcestershire is an independent organisation, not part of the NHS or the Council, who aim to make sure that everyone in Worcestershire is able to have their say about how health and social care services are run and developed.
If you would like more information on this event or what small changes could be made to make services more accessible, please contact Vicki Carrabin on 01905 746301 or minicom 01905 746300.
Healthwatch presented figures from their survey conducted with GP surgeries about their deaf patients. Of the 28 responses received from 68 surgeries, only 14 had visual displays to let people know it was their turn.
By Debra Berbezier, Bookings Coordinator
Having watched the buildup to the conference with people rushing around, printing forms and getting display boards ready, I sat with a sense of pride over what the teams achieved that day. As always Tessa and Philip made me honoured to be part of Deaf Direct, with their speeches putting a voice to some of the many problems I encounter too often. The end of the day was a highlight for me as the winner of the cake competition was indeed my husband; he was very pleased to receive a beautiful musical biscuit tin.
By Donna Rubin, Interpreter
What particularly struck me about the conference were the case studies which highlight the traumatic experiences some deaf people have faced due to lack of awareness amongst health professionals. Of course we hear bad stories in the office but seeing several presented at the same time is a stark reminder that access is denied more often than we think. I do, however, want to mention that there is also good practice across the NHS in Worcestershire and I hope that solutions can be shared to remove the unnecessary barriers to receiving equal access to healthcare. Finally, I must confess that I was one of the people that helped Debra’s husband win the cake competition, eating one (or maybe two) of the cupcakes.
By Elaine Spiteri, Outreach Worker
The day arrived which we had all been planning for (rather erratically for the last couple of weeks!) when Deaf Direct staff met up for our Staff Training Day. 2014 marked the 20th anniversary of the inception of our Communication Services department, so our main focus for the day was to celebrate this milestone by including a special event to highlight the difficult issues deaf and hard of hearing people have when accessing health and social care services.
Some staff had team meetings in the morning followed by a quick get-together for a bite to eat whilst distributing our Secret Santa parcels! Some lovely surprises; thank you all! Then there was a lot of to-ing and fro-ing as staff packed car boots with our resources and equipment needed to take to the venue at St Peter’s Baptist Church in Worcester. This scene reminded me of a funny Benny Hill sketch as we carried boxes outside (in my mind I was speeding up the pace just like in the sketches! Ha ha!)
On a serious note, the message during the event which Tessa gave to us all was poignant and serious about the effect that lack of good communication can have on a D/deaf person.
I met the local prospective parliamentary Labour candidate, Joy Squires, who agreed that the afternoon had been most interesting and useful and she would be promoting these issues during her campaign. Joy promised to tweet our ‘Golden Rules’ factsheet. Deaf Direct is most grateful to Joy as every bit of publicity will raise awareness.
There was a beautifully displayed cake stall where staff had made or bought cakes for the day, excellently run by Lotte Pickett (Deaf Direct volunteer) and Charlotte Jefferies (staff) so there was plenty to keep us all going.
A very useful day but sadly more professionals were needed to attend and receive this important information.