Together with the Kent Association for the Blind, we visited Maidstone Hospital in August last year.
A partially sighted patient identified a range of issues which made it harder for them to visit the hospital. Challenges included reading posters and signs, getting appointment letters in larger font and staff who had limited knowledge about how to support patients with additional needs.
We made a series of formal recommendations which we took to the Hospital’s Board in December. At the meeting, the Kent Association for the Blind asked all the Board members to wear eye masks and perform simple tasks such as pouring a glass of water. It was a mess! The Board were fully supportive of the recommendations and have been working with us to implement the changes ever since.
Staff are better trained and more aware of the challenges partially sighted patients face and how to support them
- Hearing loops are working, and staff know how to use them
- Some signs are easier to read
- Improvements have been made to posters and patient letters
Gemma Craig, Deputy Chief Nurse, Maidstone & Tunbridge Wells NHS Trust said,
“Hearing directly from patients who are partially sighted about the challenges they were facing when coming to our hospitals, we have listened and made significant changes. Appointment letters are better, posters are being changed, staff have been trained and we continue to progress our work to achieve the Accessible Information Standard. We would like to thank Healthwatch Kent for our continued partnership working and the benefits this brings to our patients experience”.
Healthwatch Kent's Steve Inett commented,
“It’s great to recognise the power of patient feedback today. Thanks to patients, people who are partially sighted will now find it easier to get the support they need when they visit Maidstone Hospital. We now want to encourage other Kent hospitals to roll out the same changes so watch this space!”.
This report is one of a series of visits to Kent hospitals looking at what support is available for people who may have additional needs.