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Five shortlisted for national awards: Signlive – providing patients, visitors and staff with more choice for hearing services

Claire and Amanda using SignLive

Claire and Amanda using SignLive We are delighted to announce that Plymouth Hospitals NHS Trust will be represented by five finalists at the Patient Experience National Network (PENN) awards next month.

Five projects were entered into the awards, which celebrate the delivery of outstanding patient experience. All five applications were shortlisted in at least one category, with the #letsbeopen Campaign shortlisted in two.

The projects shortlisted are:

  • Bereavement Bags, shortlisted in the Support for care givers, friends and family category
  • Healthy Bones Mobile Unit, shortlisted in the Bringing patient experience closer to home category
  • #letsbeopen Campaign – Empowering care in partnership, shortlisted in the Strengthening the foundation / Turning it around when it goes wrong category
  • Patient Diaries in Intensive Care, shortlisted in the Personalisation of care category
  • ‘SignLive’ – Providing patients, visitors and staff with more choice for hearing services, shortlisted in the Communicating Effectively with patients and Families category

In the lead up to the awards, we will be looking at each unique project and the positive impact it has had on patient experience. Today, we are focusing on the impact of working with Signlive; a company who provide online video streaming of British Sign Language (BSL) interpreters through an app on iPads, tablets and smart phones.

We recognise the importance for our deaf patients to have quick and easy access to services that allow them to communicate with other clinicians and staff. The importance of effective communication cannot be underestimated and we are very proud to be working with SignLive. This new system has enabled us to provide our patients and staff with more choice for hearing services and solutions for our deaf patients. 

Until the introduction of SignLive, the Trust had been using an external booking agency for all face-to face BSL interpreter requests but rising costs, unavailability of interpreters, and the lack of emergency and inpatient support, was having a negative impact on deaf patients.

Ellen Armitage, Quality Facilitator at the Trust began to make enquiries to find a suitable alternative and discovered SignLive. With the support of our Procurement Team a meeting was arranged between SignLive and the Trust’s Patient Services Team to discuss the services they could offer.

When the Patient Services team met with SignLive, they were unaware that their representative, Joel, was in fact profoundly deaf and attended with no face-to-face interpreter. Their communication issues were reassured when Joel dialled in to the SignLive app. An online interpreter was available via SignLive on an iPad. Joel was then able to explain and demonstrate the benefits of the system and what SignLive could offer, and it was overwhelmingly clear what an effective and additional communication tool we could introduce for our deaf patients. The team were completely blown away and a trial period was agreed to commence in July 2017.   

“On an average day, we will have at least one appointment or consultation where we will need to have ensured a face-to-face interpreter has been booked to come along to sign throughout,” explains Claire Jukes, Patient Experience Support Manager.

“However, on occasions where we haven’t been able to book an interpreter, or for whatever reason the interpreter hasn’t been able to get to the hospital, we then have to rearrange the patient’s appointment, sometimes when the patient is already in the hospital. This is certainly not what we want for our patients; coming to hospital can be an anxious time and to have to rearrange their appointment can cause more distress and a further wait for them.

Claire continues: “By introducing SignLive, we are able to provide our patients with access to a quick and immediate resource, as well as options for them to choose a service that is suitable and meets their needs.

“We know that some patients will still prefer to have an interpreter to come along to their appointment with them and that’s absolutely fine. In addition, there will be occasions when only a face-to-face interpreter will be appropriate to attend. We are working closely with our interpreters and will still be offering this as a service to our patients.”

If a deaf patient presents at the Emergency Department, this can be a very worrying and frightening time and it is not always possible to have an interpreter immediately available to them. The introduction of SignLive means that our clinical teams can easily communicate direct with the patient; previously staff have relied on a relative or friend, which in some circumstances is not appropriate.

It’s not just patients who can benefit from SignLive, visitors to the Trust who might wish to give feedback or raise a concern can use this tool in the Welcome Centre, in the main entrance of the hospital and it’s also helping to improve the lives of our staff too.

Amanda Holland, who is a Clerical Officer at the Trust, has been using SignLive in the workplace since early last year, and feels it has made a massive difference to her.

“I started using SignLive earlier this year to help with one to one meetings, team meetings, as well as training,” said Amanda. “It has had a huge impact and has given me much greater flexibility, both for holding meetings and also for training too. I can now book onto a training course rather than wait several weeks to arrange for an interpreter.

“Of course, it is not suitable for breaking bad news or to be used during a disciplinary, for example, but the Patient Services Team can arrange for this to be done through a face to face interpreter. I have generally found it very good.”

SignLive have recently increased their opening hours and has BSL interpreters currently available between the hours of 08:00 and midnight, Monday to Friday, and 08:00 to 18:00 at the weekends.

For patients, visitors or staff wanting to find out more about the service, they can visit the Welcome Centre at Derriford Hospital or contact the Patient Advice and Liaison Service (PALS) Team through the Trust website.

Good luck to all of our finalists who will attend the PEN awards in Birmingham on Thursday 1 March, where the winners will be announced.


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