This report is designed to assist the NHS in Wales in delivering high quality and accessible services to people with sensory loss in Wales. The recommendations contained within this report are the result of extensive liaison with service users, professional bodies representing people with sensory loss, patient groups and the NHS community within Wales.
Patients with sensory loss are significant users of health care services, spanning the spectrum of care, from primary to community to secondary care and onwards to specialist and tertiary services. Many, but not all, people with sensory loss are older and therefore have other health conditions, including chronic health conditions, which are not linked to their sensory loss. It is therefore important that their needs are recognised not only within ophthalmic and audiology settings but across the spectrum of service provision.
Ensuring that the needs of people with sensory loss are met is much more than an equality issue. Meeting these needs is fundamental to ensuring that safe services and high quality clinical outcomes are delivered and that people with sensory loss are able to access the care, support and advice they need to live independent and healthy lives.
The report steering group identified three main areas where services needed to improve:
- Communication – ensuring information (both written and face-to-face) is accessible and delivered in a way that meets the needs of people with sensory loss. Of specific note was the need to improve communication around access to appointments.
- Dignity & Respect– Ensuring that there is appropriate customer care and assistance for people with sensory loss from staff who understand their needs and the impact that their sensory loss has. Service users felt it was essential that staff training was undertaken and that this included people with sensory loss themselves.
- Environment – ensuring that the environments in which care is delivered are accessible and safe and appropriate to the needs of people with sensory loss.