Tuesday, 4 June 2019

Ambulance staff learn sign language


The Patient Experience and Community Engagement team collecting the awards. Picture: Wales Ambulance Service.
Ambulance staff learn sign language in an effort to help patients with hearing loss The Welsh Ambulance Service has been recognised for its efforts to become more accessible for those with hearing loss. 

Following the introduction of a scheme which encourages staff to learn how to speak the British Sign Language (BSL), the service picked up the Service Excellence and People’s Choice awards at the Excellence Wales Awards 2019. These awards conclude the year-long effort from the Welsh Ambulance Service to address the issue of making its services more accessible for those who cannot rely on a ‘traditional’ 999 call. 

100 Welsh Ambulance staff signed up for a year-long online course, supplemented by live practice sessions with a tutor. So far, five members of staff have passed the Level One BSL exam.


Level one is laudable, but most would need Level 3/4 to establish confidence with the deaf.  Of course any certainty such learners are on YOUR ambulance isn't there. We are concerned at areas teaching very basic signs to people, and then deaf (Or other medical staff), not being able to identify who they are.  One Gwent hospital had nobody who knew sign at all and there were 6 deaf and HoH patients in the hospital, in the end they found a floor cleaner who knew some to aid the Dr on the rounds.  None of the medical staff knew any.  Mostly she understood the deaf wanted their family called in.

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