As our Disability Awareness Week comes to a close, we reflect on the wide range of activities that have taken place, in order to aid a better understanding of the different types of disabilities people can have and the challenges they face.
“The overall aim of holding a Disability Awareness Week at Derriford Hospital was primarily to raise awareness with staff and visitors about the issues that many of our patients encounter when accessing services,” explains Jayne Glynn, Patient Experience Manager. “Our main goal was to give people a better understanding of the different types of disabilities and how they can affect people in a variety of ways.”
During the week, a range of teams and local services have occupied stands in the main concourse and outside the restaurant on Level 7, talked about their services, and provided information and guidance. Today, representatives from The Plymouth Regional Head & Neck Cancer Support group were here to spread the word of the support they offer.
“Coming into the hospital like this is a great opportunity for us to get the word out there,” explains Geoffrey Read, Chair of the support group. “It’s meant that we’ve been able to talk to people about what we’ve all been through, and to pass our experiences on.”
Geoffrey had a total laryngectomy back in 2009, which has left him barely able to talk. Speech problems such as his are just one the many topics that featured during the week.
“We played the ‘communication game’ with some our staff, where we challenge them to find ways of communicating without being able to talk to each other,” adds Jayne. “It’s a short exercise, with two people back to back, one with a puzzle and the other with the instructions. It’s a bit of fun but really opens their eyes as to the challenges that people can be facing.”
Local groups promoting their services this week included the Macular Society, who support patients and their families with macular degeneration; Caring for Carers, a partnership between Improving Lives Plymouth and Age UK Plymouth; Sensory Solutions, helping people with sensory impairment to live independently and Alzheimer’s Society, a dementia support and research charity. Plymouth Citybus demonstrated their disability awareness bus and the volunteer mobility buggy drivers explained how recent donations have funded a new buggy.
Our internal teams were also greatly involved, with staff from Patient Services, the Audiology department and Learning Disabilities Team also promoting their services, as well as Hovis, one of our Pets As Therapy dogs.
“We’ve been able to demonstrate lots of ways that we are able to help patients and visitors with disabilities,” summarises Jayne. “From our new communications app for the deaf/hard of hearing, SignLive, hearing loops and portable hearing devices, to providing equipment to help people to get around and the new volunteer-run mobility buggy.
“Overall it’s been a great week – we’ve spoken to lots of staff members, patients and visitors, and gathered plenty of ideas for improvement.”