Patients with learning disabilities help shape hospital improvements

Last year around 1150 patients admitted to the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital had learning disabilities. It is thought that approximately a quarter of people with learning disabilities attend hospital every year. At the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (NNUH), local people with a range of learning disabilities are helping to monitor and improve services for patients with learning disabilities.

The group of around a dozen ‘expert patients’ has been set up to help shape the hospital’s learning disability training programmes and review its services. The group consists of some patients who have had experiences at the hospital and some who have not.

In June members of the ‘expert patients’ group took part in a mystery shopper day to see how various hospital services catered for their needs. They were asked to carry out a number of tasks, such as asking for directions, buying food or drink from one of the hospital shops, asking for assistance in the restaurant and telephoning the switchboard and asking to be put through to members of staff.

The patients fed back their experiences, recorded a video about how they felt and completed an accessible questionnaire with the help of facilitator ‘Shelly Telly’.

The Mystery Shoppers were asked to report back on how friendly the staff were, how helpful the staff were and whether they were able to achieve their task.

Facilitator Shelly said: “On the whole the results were very good, and no staff were rated as being ‘unhelpful.’ The expert patients were also asked to give a star rating for the service they received where one star was poor and five stars was excellent. The average score was four stars.”

Andrew Hewson who has limited speech, was given the task of telephoning the switchboard. He said: “The operator was very patient and spoke very slowly so I could understand what she was asking me, she was also very helpful.”

Tristan Johnson, Acute Liaison Nurse for Learning Disabilities at the Trust said: “The expert patients have been invaluable to us in terms of gathering their feedback about their experiences. We want to make sure we listen to our patients who use our services and involve them in shaping any changes. We put our patients at the heart of everything we do and those involved have been very pleased that they’ve been able to take part.”

Expert training

In addition to the mystery shopper day, expert patients and their family members or carers are taking part in special training days for members of hospital staff who want to learn more about how to communicate and care for patients with learning disabilities. The patients and carers talk about their own personal experiences and the feedback from attendees has been extremely positive.

As part of learning disability awareness week an information stand will be on show in the hospital’s West Atrium from 19 – 25 August for patients and staff to find out more about the work undertaken by the Trust’s learning disability nursing team.

NNUH has learning disability link practitioners in most wards and departments across the hospital who undergo additional training every year about understanding the needs of patients with learning disabilities. They help their teams make reasonable adjustments for patients with learning disabilities.


Thursday 15th of August 2013 01:00:34 PM