Diversity, Inclusion and Equality week - Helen's story

Helen Cherry, who is deaf, is one of our patient representatives who contributed to our Accessible Information Standard (AIS) policy

Helen Cherry

Since August 2016 AIS has been a legal requirement. The standard sets out a specific and consistent approach to identifying and meeting the communication support needs for patients, service users, carers and parents who have a disability or sensory loss.

Helen was invited to share her knowledge and perspective based on her own experiences as a patient at Kings. This helped us write a new policy that aims to put patients first and will help us provide inclusive and accessible health care.

Helen gives us a positive example of a simple solution which made a huge difference to her.

‘I was treated at King’s for a burst appendix. I was anxious I would lose my hearing aids during the emergency operation. When I went into surgery the anaesthetic assistant asked me how to turn my aids on and off so she could do that for me during the procedure, enabling me to keep my aids in throughout not having to remove them at all. Something so simple made a huge difference just to ‘hear’ right up to moment of going under anaesthesia to the ”wake up” voice after surgery.

Helen commented on how she felt her lived experience is valued and observed Kings has a re-energised proactive commitment in line with our new Trust strategy which states ‘establishing new services co-designed alongside patients and members of the public to make sure they are fit for purpose and accessible to all’.

Helen remains involved and states we need to now make the AIS a policy a living document providing the insight to ensure responsive diverse inclusive access for all, in real time, and not an add on afterthought. More training and awareness raising is ongoing.

She said "It is not enough to have policies, standards and guides full of positive intention and meaningful words without proactive implementation. It needs embedding into daily best practice and not what ‘should’ happen but what ‘actually’ happens and make the AIS policy a living document not an add on or seen as an inconvenience."

People who use, or care for people who use our services, provide invaluable feedback which helps us improve. This partnership working across the Trust is crucial.