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The importance of communication highlighted by learning disability champions

image of LD Champions meeting Staff and patients joined together for the new Annual Joint Learning Disability Champion meeting held at Derriford Hospital this week.

Attended by the Derriford User Group (DUG) members, who have a learning disability and have used, or still use, hospital services, and the Learning Disability Link Practitioners from the Trust, the event was organised to not only thank both staff and patients, but to also ensure those with learning disabilities are able to have a greater say on improving the patient experience in an acute care setting.

The issue of ‘communication’ was highlighted by DUG members from the Friends and Family Test feedback, which is specifically completed by patients who have a learning disability. As part of their role, the Learning Disability Link Practitioners, alongside the DUG members, are aiming to improve the way in which patients with a learning disability can communicate with staff, and help staff to understand different techniques of communicating.

Saoirse Read, Learning Disability Liaison Team Leader, was naturally enthused with how the day went for both staff and the DUG members: “The whole team felt the day went extremely well, with brilliant interaction from both our DUG members and Link Practitioners. The day was about learning how hugely important communication is, looking at the good and the bad.

“We explored the new initiatives and ways in which we can improve communication, which will not only benefit people with a learning disability but other people who may find barriers in communication in the acute care setting.”

The event also recognised individuals and departments who have provided an exemplary service for patients with a learning disability, and who have made significant contributions to patient care. Bev Allingham, Deputy Director of Nursing, Saoirse Read, Learning Disability Liaison Team Leader, and Darren Colley another DUG member, handed out the awards gifts and certificates to:

  • Freedom Unit
  • MRI Unit and Honeyford Wards
  • Andy Porter (Consultant Anaesthetist)
  • Katherine Wilkins (Healthcare Assistant and Learning Disability Link Practitioner)
  • Leni Savage (Erme Ward)
  • Mark Drake (Consultant)
  • Sharon Sheldon (Royal Eye Infirmary)

A final big thank you went to Consultant Anaesthetist Simon Courtman, who has been the Trust’s learning disability medical lead over many years.

Ann James, Chief Executive, and Greg Dix, Chief Nurse and Operating Officer, were also in attendance to thank the DUG members for all their efforts over the past years and for attending the patient experience committee.

“It was a wonderful opportunity to say a genuine heartfelt thank you to our DUG members, individual staff members and departments whom all have had such a positive impact on the care for patients who have learning disability. It was great to see DUG members Susie Partridge, Anthony Jarwood and Claire Dawe all contributing to the meeting proceedings, something of which we are very grateful for. I would like to thank all who were able to attend, those who contributed to planning the event and those who spoke on the day,” added Saoirse.

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