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Not Equal: The experiences of Deaf people accessing Health and Social Care in Sheffield

Not Equal: The experiences of Deaf people accessing Health and Social Care in Sheffield

Healthwatch Sheffield, in partnership with Citizens Advice Sheffield and Disability Sheffield has carried out an investigation into the experiences of Deaf people accessing health and social care services in the city. Deaf people’s needs are often disregarded when it comes to provision of health and social care in Sheffield, their new report – entitled Not Equal – has revealed.

Approximately 75 Deaf, Deafblind and hard of hearing people shared their views during three workshops. Common themes emerged, including:

  • The communication needs of Deaf people are not routinely recorded and flagged by providers of NHS or Adult Social Care.
  • The communication needs of Deaf people are not routinely shared between GPs and hospitals.
  • Provision of British Sign Language interpreters is inconsistent and unreliable, causing people to disengage from services and to suffer unnecessary distress.

Margaret Kilner, Chief Officer for Healthwatch Sheffield said “The experiences shared during the course of this investigation have left us in no doubt that Deaf people face many continual barriers to accessing health and social care in Sheffield. These are not isolated incidents, and we hope that in presenting our findings to local commissioners and providers, they will take steps to ensure equal access for Deaf people.’

The report’s authors have made five recommendations to improve the situation and make sure the organisations involved fulfil the legal obligation to apply the Accessible Information Standard – which aims to ‘make sure that people who have a disability, impairment or sensory loss get information that they can access and understand, and any communication support that they need from health and care services.’

View Report.

A British Sign Language video summarising the recommendations and the responses from providers will be uploaded to the Healthwatch Sheffield website to help Deaf people understand what they can expect from services.

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