The Trust has a disability equality officer who has focused on improving access for disabled people attending and working in our hospitals since 2001.
Making changes for disabled people in the built environment or in how we do things, or communicate is known as making “reasonable adjustments”, which you may have heard of in relation to patients, but it also applies to staff.
Sometimes, a small change to how things are done in the workplace can make a significant difference for a disabled member of staff, improving their experience and helping them to feel more productive and satisfied with their performance.
Every person who attends our hospitals, whether as a patient, member of staff or a visitor, should find their experience in regards to access, is as favourable as that of a non-disabled person. In terms of communication for example: making sure that BSL interpreters, hearing induction loops and personal listening devices are available when required, for use by people with impaired hearing. Or another example in relation to the built environment: making sure that accessible toilets are provided which are fitted out in line with appropriate guidance and in convenient locations.
Communication is the most important factor. Being able to communicate effectively can stop a disabled person from feeling isolated and anxious; everyone wants to be heard and to understand what is happening. An example of how the Trust considers the needs to disabled people is by providing clear signage which incorporates symbols wherever possible, for ease of understanding
Small considerations such as providing a variety of chair-types in waiting rooms and obtaining orthopaedic chairs for staff who need them, make life a little easier. Also, making sure lighting is even and consistent, that doors are not too heavy to open and that seating is available in long corridors, all contribute to a person’s sense of wellbeing.
Raising staff awareness of the needs of disabled people is very important, as it puts “reasonable adjustments” into perspective, de-mystifying a subject they may not feel confident about.
If you would like more information regarding Disability and Equality within the Trust contact Carol McIndoe on Carol.Mcindoe@nhs.glos.uk or 0300 422 5738