(Image courtesy of Enterprising Barnsley)
We aim to provide a service that specifically tackles the following NHS Outcomes, currently out of reach of most Deaf patients
“Preventing people from dying prematurely”Similar to many disadvantaged communities, mortality rates are too far above average for Deaf people. With improvements in health literacy Deaf patients would be able to access the right life-saving service at the right time. Developments in self-care and use of preventative services will also increase the life expectancy which is limited due to access and knowledge barriers
“Enhancing the quality of life for people with long-term conditions” For the Deaf patients who are aware of any long-term illness or health conditions they may have, understanding how Primary Care services can help them grants a significant enhancement in the quality of life. Comprehending and relating to these important services on their own terms, through culturally appropriate and fluent BSL visual explanations we aim to provide, is essential in making these life-enhancing connections.
“Ensuring that people have a positive experience of care” The Health Needs Assessment we carried out in 2009 with NHS Wakefield, showed that any positive experiences were few and far between, many hesitated attending GP appointments and that information about how to use the services on offer was not accessible. Through fluent BSL and visual education, Deaf patients can know more of what to expect and what is expected of them, planting the seeds of positive and constructive Deaf patient and doctor relationships.
Evidence based commissioning:
The 2009 Health Needs Assessment’s chief finding was that what 92% of respondents wanted most from their health service was information in the right format. The multitude of conversations we have had with Deaf people since 2007 indicate that the right format for them is fluent, visual BSL
British medical research carried out in the deprived area of Sandwell, also showed that Deaf patients are significantly disadvantaged in terms of health and self-care because of a lack of accessible information in their own language. We aim to develop fluent-BSL education, that also develops signs that can convey often complex medical terminology.Our services also come strongly recommended by healthcare professionals and the community. Additional academic evidence, from the US also supports the effectiveness of educations that is sign language based. A Journal of Cancer Education study on colorectal cancer found the Deaf patients “demonstrated significantly higher scores” when tested on knowledge gained through watch sign language-based video presentations. Medical scientists at the University of Rochester in New York also found that “accessible information and peer support”, in a group counselling setting that used sign language provided significant gains in behaviour and weight loss. The American Heart Association reported that this weight loss programme offered in American Sign Language (ASL) was vastly more successful than support or interventions typically offered to Deaf people struggling with being overweight or obese. One of the counsellors involved stated the following, “Participants were comfortable in the culturally affirming environment in which everyone signs. This setting, along with accessible information and peer support, contributed to the positive experience of participants.”
Plenty of negative evidence validates the necessity of the service we offer. Current health information translations from English do not provide a path away from current health inequalities, they only serve to perpetuate confusion and mistrust that many Deaf patients have of GPs and NHS services that they need! (See the Deaf Health Inequalities section for an overview.)
Further evidence is needed through a trial commission to create a competitive standard; we offer the NHS a community-based, but professionally produced and medically accurate solution to this challenge