Beverley Soltysiak BA, DipNurs, RMN; Paul O'Shea, BSc (Hons), CPT, RMN.
Beverly-Integrated Care Pathways Lead Officer (Mental Health Service for Older People), Oakdale, Plympton Hospital; Paul-Lecturer Practitioner, Mental Health Services for Older People, PlymouthThe admission of a patient with sensory impairment to a ward within our trust highlighted a gap in our service (Box 1). This paper describes how a group of committed staff addressed this issue.
Investigation into this subject identified that there were legal requirements which supported our desire to improve provision for patients within the trust.
The goal of this project was simply: 'To meet the needs of patients with sensory impairment in line with the Disability Discrimination Act and equal opportunities policy.'
This process highlighted several action points:
A working group was established to consider the protocol/procedure and prioritise the action points discussed above. This group was divided into three smaller groups to address:
A training programme has been developed for staff within the trust. The main aim is to raise awareness of the needs of people with visual, hearing and speech impairment when accessing our service. Two types of training have been developed, one for clinicians and one for non-clinicians. These are to be held quarterly.
The communication group discussed how to get through to staff, patients, the public and other health-care and partner agencies. A trust public event was organised to encourage interaction between the trust and the local communities. This was held in the Guild Hall in the centre of Plymouth and was attended by trust staff, patients, the public and other health-care and partner agencies. Over 300 people attended the event during the day.
This group met with a representative of our neighbouring trust. It met only once, but by doing so opened the lines of communication and provided an opportunity to share developments in both trusts. The meeting identified some of the organisational processes that need to be in place to support service development. A steering group met regularly, providing a forum for the three sub-groups to feed back developments.
A recent meeting agreed that the steering group should meet quarterly to ensure that these issues are kept on the agenda. The service continues to develop and interventions are evaluated.
This work has taken 18 months so far and at times progress has seemed very slow. We have not yet addressed all the action points. No resources have been specifically dedicated to this work. At times it has been unclear of the best approach to take.
The authors wish to acknowledge the contribution of Annie Barrett, the approved social worker, who was instrumental in starting this process, and all who have contributed to the steering group or the sub-groups. They would particularly like to thank Maggie Paine, Hearing and Sight Centre, Plymouth; David Jeffery, Plymouth Social Services Sensory Team and Mary Sutcliffe, Speech and Language Therapy, Plymouth.
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