Rachael Middle – Lead Speech and Language Therapist in a Community Learning Disability Team, Southern Health NHS Foundation Trust
What is your current role and what do you enjoy about it?
I currently work as a lead Speech and Language Therapist in a Community Learning Disability Team. I work with people and their carers to develop communication skills and support with eating and drinking difficulties (dysphagia). As a team we work with adults with learning disabilties to try and address health inequalities and promote access to mainstream health services wherever possible. The part of my job I enjoy the most is working on accessibility, training others and advising on reasonable adjustments.
I really enjoy working with and learning from our experts by experience group (our ‘Service User Group’). The group offers invaluable insight in to the challenges someone with a learning disability can experience in trying to access healthcare and manage their own health. The group is a great example of how much more effective our work is when coproduction is utilised.
What is the key area you are working on at the moment?
The key area we are continuing to work on at the moment is the Accessible Information Standard. This standard runs right through the ‘patient’ journey and we want to make sure we are taking every opportunity to make our interactions and information effective. Information and interactions cannot be effective if they are not tailored to the person’s level of understanding. We are currently focusing on how we can use technology to provide information to people in different formats. This has involved a lot of work with our IT and governance teams.
The Southampton City Community Learning Disability team Service User Group (our expert by experience group) have made a video about why the AIS is important to them:
What’s your biggest health information challenge?
The biggest health information challenge for me is ensuring we provide personalised information which is accessible but also of a high quality. Accessibility should not take away from the quality or value of the piece of information. It is important that health staff are aware of this when they are producing information and one of the ways we are trying to address this is through training.
What’s the best bit about working in health information?
Health information incorporates a huge amount of areas and modalities. The area is always evolving, particularly due to the opportunities technology brings. Health information delivered in the right way can really empower a person and lead to better health outcomes. I am passionate about the link between health information and health inequalities, particularly in relation to health literacy. The best bit of working in health information is being in a position to influence health outcomes
Why did you join PIF?
I joined PIF so I could be a part of a network of likeminded people who all share ideas and best practice in the provision of health information. PIF promotes evidence based practice in this area and being part of PIF is a great way of being able to access the toolkits and resources.
What top tip do you have to share on health information?
There is no one better to give feedback and advice on a piece of health information than the audience it is intended for. We try to ensure we have service user involvement at all stages of health information provision. This can help to ensure that you are monitoring the impact of the information and whether it is of value to the intended audience.