We recognise the importance for our patients who are deaf to have quick and easy access to services that allow them to communicate with our clinicians and staff.
As part of our commitment for the provision of British Sign Language (BSL), and to ensure our services are accessible to all deaf patients, we have reviewed other options available to be able to provide this and, as a result, we have been trialling the online video interpreter service, SignLive, since the end of June 2017.
The service is provided through an app saved on to iPads and accessed via WiFi around the organisation. The Patient Services Team has purchased, with Charitable Funds, additional iPads to loan out to departments to allow the facility to be fully utilised. This new service is being offered to patients alongside the option of face-to-face interpreters.
“On an average day, we will have at least one appointment or consultation where we will need to have ensured a face-to-face interpreter has been booked to come along to sign throughout,” explains Claire Jukes, Patient Experience Support Manager.
“However, on occasions where we haven’t been able to book an interpreter, or for whatever reason the interpreter hasn’t been able to get to the hospital, we then have to rearrange the patient’s appointment, sometimes when the patient is already in the hospital. This is certainly not what we want for our patients; coming to hospital can be an anxious time and to have to rearrange their appointment can cause more distress and a further wait for them.
“We then have patients coming into the hospital via our Emergency Department or to our Assessment Units, who might be deaf or hard of hearing and it’s not always possible to have someone immediately to hand to interpret or our colleagues have to communicate with the patient via their relative, which in some circumstances is just not appropriate.”
Claire continues: “By introducing SignLive, we are able to provide our patients with access to a quick and immediate resource, as well as options for them to choose a service that is suitable and meets their needs.
“We know that some patients will still prefer to have an interpreter to come along to their appointment with them and that’s absolutely fine. In addition, there will be occasions when only a face-to-face interpreter will be appropriate to attend. We are working closely with our interpreters and will still be offering this as a service to our patients.”
It’s not just patients who can benefit from SignLive, visitors to the Trust who might wish to give feedback or raise a concern can use this tool in the Welcome Centre, in the main entrance of the hospital and it’s also helping to improve the lives of our staff too.
Amanda Holland, who is a Clerical Officer at the Trust, has been using SignLive in the workplace since earlier this year, and feels it has made a massive difference to her.
“I started using SignLive earlier this year to help with one to one meetings, team meetings, as well as training,” adds Amanda. “It has had a huge impact and has given me much great flexibility, both for holding meetings and also for training too. I can now book onto a training course rather than wait several weeks to arrange for an interpreter.
“Of course, it is not suitable for breaking bad news or to be used during a disciplinary, for example, but the Patient Services Team can arrange for this to be done through a face to face interpreter. I have generally found it very good.”
SignLive has BSL interpreters currently available between the hours of 08:00 and 20:00 Monday to Friday, and 08:00 to 13:00 on Saturdays. There are plans to extend these hours.
For patients, visitors or staff wanting to find out more about the service, they can visit the Welcome Centre at Derriford Hospital or contact the Patient Advice and Liaison Service (PALS) Team through the Trust website.