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Queen’s Hospital Romford

Raising The Bar

Victoria Wallen is Head of Patient Experience at Barking, Havering and Redbridge University Hospitals NHS Trust, covering Queen’s Hospital Romford and King George Hospital in Ilford. Her determination to provide better access and services for Deaf people across the Trust resulted in Queen’s Hospital meriting a RAD Deaf-Aware Quality Mark, and King George Hospital will soon follow suit.

In 2015, the Trust believed they had appropriate support in place for Deaf patients, until Healthwatch Redbridge undertook an ‘enter and view’ visit to the hospitals, which turned this belief on its head.

Their report revealed several areas where staff were unaware of the Trust’s support policies, and not always giving Deaf patients the support they needed. This was echoed at the first meeting of the Havering Deaf Community Action Forum, where the 50 attendees all told Victoria about the problems they faced accessing services at the Trust.

“My perception of what was in place to support our Deaf patients was not the same as their lived experience,” says Victoria.

Her first move was to set up the Deaf Patient Access Group with members of the local Deaf community and, following one of their meetings, Victoria approached RAD for help in further developing and enhancing the Trust’s services and staff training, and to explore achieving the RAD Quality Mark.

Her timing could not have been better. We were looking to expand our portfolio of Quality Marks, and realised hospitals had a genuine need for support and recognition. Working together, we designed the Deaf-Aware Hospital Quality Mark, and Queen’s Hospital was its first recipient in June 2017.

Among the measures the hospital put in place were Deaf Awareness Training sessions for all staff (with two extra sessions aimed especially at reception staff), and development of a ‘Deaf awareness top tips’ video to help staff understand how to communicate with Deaf people. Material from this video formed the basis for a poster displayed in staff areas and is being turned into an essential eLearning course for all staff members.

They have also introduced a text service so Deaf patients can communicate with staff directly, and developed videos in British Sign Language (BSL) and subtitles to convey important patient information, putting Deaf patients on a more equal footing with the hearing community.

Victoria was very happy with the progress they’ve made at the Trust. “Apart from the prestige of achieving the Quality Mark, we felt this would demonstrate we had reviewed our services and put in place additional support to ensure our Deaf patients are not disadvantaged.”

Queen’s Hospital is currently undergoing a review for revalidation of their Quality Mark, while King George is also under assessment and should gain the Mark within the next couple of months.

We are proud to support Victoria’s and the Trust’s ongoing efforts to improve access and outcomes for Deaf people, and look forward to working together again in the future!

Want to gain a Deaf-Aware Quality Mark?

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