Saturday, 11 January 2020

The Deaf and Mental Health (II).

Image result for mental health
Following on from the Scandal at Bury Hospital, ATR contacted leading areas of BSL interpreters including the ASLI, SignHealth, and Signature, and asked the basic question 'How many UK Interpreters of British Sign Language had a specialisation in Deaf Mental Health? and none of the areas quoted said there were ANY quotable records of such specialisation, but, what transpired at Bury was the statement 'BSL Interpreters needed a minimum level 4 BSL attainment, to work in such 'specialised' areas..", although an investigation was carried out into poor support for the deaf at that institution nobody asked if the interpreters were qualified in deaf mental health.  The CQC (Care quality commission) failed to ask the question regarding the deaf area, which suggests they are out of their depth in deaf areas or satisfied no specialisation is needed so long as BSL is there?  That seems to challenge BDA/cultural demands FOR specialisation.

It also raises the question why, areas that promote BSL and e.g. charities like the dedicated BDA, demanded such specialisation yet agreed on non-specialist terps at Bury?  If level 4 is an accepted level of deaf support for the deaf sign user with mental health issues, then why have these BSL areas objected to level 4 terps assisting with localised mental health teams?  (And why in local authority areas up and down the country they are quite happy to provide level 2 BSL as deaf support in other care areas, including deaf Alzheimer patients).

By demanding a specialisation that does not actually exist, has a trainee program or is being lobbied for, they, in essence, are accepting deaf patients need to be exported out of areas their families and friends live in, to get the support that isn't there, just different interpreters.  

BSL is a means of communication for some deaf people but the lack of other essential skills a BSL terp needs when specialist health and legal support areas are involved, is accepted as unnecessary, it's a good job Consultants don't work that way.  Are BSL terps assuming there is no point in specialising as these deaf would not understand the technical terms or explanations anyway?  Because they don't either?

The ATR mini-survey was a tentative follow-on to checks on Preston, Manchester, Bath and London deaf specialist centres as well as the recent documented Bury hospital problem where deaf care was said to be bloody awful mostly, it just said deaf support requirement was minimum level 4, but no other specialisation was required.  There did not seem to be valid, proof that psychologists and psychiatrists themselves were well-versed in BSL but were also relying on BSL Terps themselves.  

It is claimed the BDA among others demanded stand-alone 'specialised' MH areas all in BSL and these places are all there is.  At Bury, there were no checks by police or social services on support staff either.

Like most current BSL campaigns, It's the 'cart before horse' approaches that demand/insist on a specialisation that nobody is training for at present and no program of training is extant.  Are Mental health professionals in deaf areas being sold a cultural argument and not a valid clinical support program?  Is 'deaf depression' a different depression to someone with hearing having that?' Apparently, the cultural area says yes it is.  This does not seem so given only the communication is different and only then because medical staff don't know it.

We get the same 'demands' regarding education, and there again the staff do not exist to provide what they are demanding there either.   E.G. lip speakers specialise in legal matters, and rumours there are BSL terps who specialised in medical matters but they just seem minimal and localised to 3 major cities only, again, we are unable to get any numbers or background on such skills.  The RAD claim to specialise in legal matters via BSL, but are restricted to one area of the UK, but health area specialisation?

Rank and file deaf BSL users just accept the terp is all things to everyone deaf, and this is not the case. A terp needs to understand the detail even to simplify it for the patient.  If it is just a qualification to sign is all that is needed, then specialist deaf centres are not needed are they?  BSL terps already provide access to GP's and Hospitals etc.. so why not local mental health teams?

They say the only other 'specialisation' needed apart from the BSL one is a 'general awareness' of deaf culture.  We fail to see how knowledge of 1880s Milan is going to help them in the 21stc to treat patients deaf with mental health problems but...  If the terp has no specialisation, or care staff, and the diagnostic Medical staff no BSL, then how does support work?   'He said, she said, so do this?'  If the BSL community wants the sort of access and choices hearing have, then, they have to have the specialisation that go with it.  

These issues transcend the drive for cultural recognition as this is about real need, and real support surelyAreas like anxiety and depression are also NOT deaf specific, why are BSL lobbies determined to isolate these deaf by specialisation?  It is hardly inclusion is it?  It would also seem that protective and investigative areas like the CQC or health Inspectorate, to ensure clinical and care support is applied properly, stands back from the deaf area unsure what IS required so unqualified support is running deaf care?