Your GP can prescribe you an arts activity or even a dance class

A smiling older woman with a younger woman seated at a table. They are taking part in an arts activity

‘Social Prescribing’ is a system where healthcare professionals are able to refer patients to local, non-clinical services to meet their wellbeing needs. What you can take part in will depend on what’s available locally, and how local services work together.

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A valued workforce or a challenge to national productivity?

A man sits behind the desk of a radio station, about to speak into the microphone

Last week, the Government announced its ambitions and plans to get one million disabled people into work over the next ten years. Sense cautiously welcomed this announcement knowing that this will only be successful if it has a meaningful and positive outcome for disabled people.  ‘Getting people in to work’ is more than just finding a job for someone; it’s about finding the right job and disabled people getting the support they need to find work and stay in work.  For this to be realised, it’s crucial that employers and job centre staff have positive attitudes and understanding of what disabled people can and want to achieve in work.

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How can we truly transform care for people with complex needs?

A woman and man touching via fingers

Ahead of tonight’s Dispatches ‘Under Lock and Key’ programme on Channel 4, I’ve been thinking about where we’ve come with the NHS Transforming Care programme and how much further we still have to go.

It’s now nearly six years since BBC Panorama broke the story of the Winterbourne View scandal and three years since Sir Stephen Bubb’s review on transforming the commissioning of services for people with learning disabilities and/or autism.  Yet still, we are in the situation where there are over 2,500 people with learning disabilities and/or autism currently in inpatient settings, 63% of whom have been there for two or more years¹.

Whilst I don’t deny that for some people, care in an inpatient setting is something they need for their safety and care, for many others this is not the case and something has to change.

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What would accessible healthcare mean to you?

If healthcare was accessible…

“I could be more independent.”

“I would regain a lot of self-respect as well as better health.”

“I could be more involved in discussions about my care.”

These are just three of the answers that I got when I asked people who are deafblind and their families about what accessible healthcare would mean to them. At some stage in all of our lives we will need to use healthcare services, but for many these services simply aren’t accessible.

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The Accessible Information Standard – an update

Today sees the first implementation deadline of The Accessible Information Standard.

The Accessible Information Standard sets out what health and social care providers in England need to do to make sure they provide information in accessible formats and communication support for appointments where appropriate.  It applies to all providers of health and adult social care where people need services to be made accessible because of a sensory impairment and/or a learning disability.  The Standard isn’t optional; it’s mandatory and must be followed. Continue reading “The Accessible Information Standard – an update”

A Christmas wish for The Man on the Moon

So the countdown has begun, Christmas parties are taking place, children are excitedly counting down (only 14 sleeps to go) and those of us who have ‘left it a bit late’ are frantically trying to push our way through the crowds during lunch breaks to buy those last minute presents.  Throw in some mulled wine, mince pies and carol services and Christmas is most definitely upon us.  Since November, television adverts have been presenting us with the ‘perfect’ Christmas scene; surrounded by family in festive jumpers and eating the finest profiteroles that a supermarket has to offer.  Well, all apart from one that is.  This year, John Lewis took the opportunity to highlight what Christmas looks like for many older people who are isolated at Christmas.  The now famous ‘Man on the Moon’ advert (in partnership with Age UK) shows how isolated older people can be, especially at Christmas time and has been thought provoking for many.

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Problems with your sight and hearing? You’re not alone

This week you may have seen the news that the actress June Brown (known to many as Dot Branning in EastEnders) has been experiencing problems with her sight and hearing.  The reality is that June Brown isn’t alone, in fact Sense estimates that there are more than 250,000 people aged over 70 who have difficulties with both sight and hearing.  This number is estimated to grow to nearly half a million by 2030.  With statistics such as these, it’s likely that we all know someone who has problems with both their sight and hearing (or will ourselves).

As we get older many of us will start to develop problems with our hearing and vision; the combination of which can cause problems with mobility, communication and access to information.  In the beginning you might find that you need glasses, or turn the volume up on the TV and notice that everyone seems to speak more quickly these days.

Now, before I go any further it’s important to point out that I’m not saying or suggesting that a dual sensory loss means you can’t lead an active life – in fact it’s completely the opposite.  Whilst many people think this is ‘just something that happens with age’ and that ‘nothing can be done’, people can continue to live full and active lives.  Even if there’s no cure for the sight and hearing problems, support is available to enable people to continue enjoying life.

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Introducing The Accessible Information Standard

Today is a very exciting day, as I can now officially say that the NHS England Accessible Information Standard has been approved.  The Accessible Information Standard sets out what health and social care providers need to do to make sure that they provide information in accessible formats and communication support for appointments where appropriate. More information about the Standard; what is and how it works can be found on our website

We know that only 69% of people with a dual sensory loss feel confident in managing their own health conditions* and from speaking to many deafblind people during my time at Sense I know that information in accessible formats and access to appropriate communication support can have a huge impact when it comes to confidence in managing health.  Often the solutions are very simple, for example receiving an appointment letter via email instead of in print so that the person receiving the letter can use the screen reader software on their computer to read it.

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“Don’t worry about me, it’s just because I’m old”

I don’t know about you but this is a phrase that I hear too much and would, quite frankly, like to see the back of.  There seems to be a general culture that when you reach a certain age things such as difficulties with hearing and sight are inevitable and not worth bothering with as it’s just ‘part of getting older’.  But why is that the case?  What is the point at which we go from fighting something to accepting the inevitable?  And why does it seem to be age that defines this?

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Making healthcare accessible for all

In my role as the Health Policy Officer for Sense I spend a lot of time listening to the views and experiences of deafblind people on the healthcare services that they access.  The other day I was talking to Joanne who told me about how she nearly missed her flu vaccination because it was being advertised using posters in her GP waiting room which she couldn’t see as she is blind; thankfully her husband saw the poster and mentioned it to her so she was able to ask her GP about it in her next appointment.

There are so many aspects of healthcare services that need consideration for those who are deafblind – more than I initially realised.  These range from needing appointment letters in accessible formats (e.g. braille or large print) so that the person can know when their next appointment is, to having appropriate communication support (e.g. a deafblind manual or BSL interpreter) booked for appointments or stays in hospital.  Other considerations include the lighting and layout of clinics as well as how to know your name is being called in a waiting room if you can’t hear or see the doctor or nurse.

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