A new guide, co-produced with the community and voluntary sector, will enable health and social care staff to communicate more effectively with people who are disabled or have a communication support need.
Launched at Knockbracken Hall, Belfast, the Making Communication Accessible for All: A Guide for Health & Social Care Staff provides practical tips, advice and guidelines for health and social care staff to enable them to be more inclusive and accessible in their communication with service users. It aims to make staff aware of current legislation and will help staff create communication friendly environments that will improve access to health and social care services.
Welcoming the development of this valuable guide, Orla Barron, Health and Social Inequalities Manager at Belfast Health and Social Care Trust, said “One in 5 people will experience communication difficulties at some point in their lives. Inclusive communication reduces barriers many people with communication difficulties, or who have communication support needs, face. The barriers are often created through people simply not knowing how to communicate effectively. This guide aims to give staff practical tips and advice that will establish good practice and mean improved health outcomes for people with communication support needs and the wider community. Producing the guide with the community and voluntary sector was essential as the partnership working meant that people with expert knowledge and first-hand experience could influence this good practice resource for staff.
“The Making Communication Accessible for All Guide demonstrates the commitment within health and social care staff to ensuring people can understand the information they are given about their health and care. Everyone has the right to communicate. Moreover, inclusive communication is a requirement by law. By creating the conditions in which to cultivate inclusive communication we can ensure that we share information in a way that everyone can understand.”
Development of the guide has been led by the Belfast Health and Social Care Trust in partnership with the Health and Social Care Trusts, the Health and Social Care Board (HSCB), Public Health Agency (PHA), and partners from the community and voluntary sectors.
Speaking at the event, David Galloway, Director RNIB NI and Co-Chair of the Physical and Sensory Disability Strategy Supporting Independent Living, Information & Training Workstream, said: “Long after today, this guide will provide a useful reference point to staff across health and social care. It will ensure that people with communication difficulties receive written and oral information in a way that is easily understood. The guide demonstrates how, by making a small effort, and taking the time to communicate better we can make a big difference to people’s lives.”
The guide reflects the vision and values laid down in the Department of Health’s Physical and Sensory Disability Strategy (2012-15). In particular it builds on the Strategy’s focus on supporting people with a disability in becoming well informed and expert in their own needs.
Praising the partnership ethos central to the development of this resource, Donal Diffin, Co-Chair of the Physical and Sensory Disability Strategy Implementation Group, “We wish to acknowledge the value we place on working alongside people with real life experience of using disability services, and, with our partners from disability representative organisations. By co-producing resources which are service user focused and practical we can improve experience and outcomes for people with disabilities in health and social care.
“In 2012 the regional Physical and Sensory Disability Strategy set our direction in supporting disabled people to better exercise their rights, choices and life opportunities. Furthermore, it provided us with a regional steer towards developing inclusive and effective high quality health and social care services. The introduction of resources like Making Communication Accessible for All ensures that we consolidate past work and can continue to strive in our efforts to improve accessibility to services in the future.”
The Making Communication Accessible To All Guide is available in electronic and hard copy versions. To access the electronic version visit the Belfast Health and Social Care Trust website at www.belfasttrust.hscni.net/MakingCommunicationAccessible.