Delivering personalised care for all: Why care homes need to be better equipped to care for deaf people
By Maggie Candy, Home Manager for Marlborough Court, part of Four Seasons
Losing hearing is a well-known part of the aging process, which residential care homes have long since been able to deal with effectively thanks to the accessibility of hearing aids and hearing checks.
Care homes across the UK have, however, not yet fully refined their care services to better meet the needs of elderly people who are deaf. Recent research into the needs of older deaf people commissioned by The Royal Association for Deaf People (RAD) and [sonus] (formerly Hampshire Deaf Association), found that older people who are British Sign Language users are receiving inadequate residential care because their cultural and communication needs are not being met.
Furthermore, whilst there are some specialist care homes for deaf people, local authority funding cuts have resulted in the majority closing over the last few years, leaving many deaf people without access to appropriate care services.
In order to try and ensure that elderly deaf people receive appropriate care, the Royal Association for Deaf People, [sonus], and Care Minister, Norman Lamb, have launched the Care Quality Mark Scheme for Older Deaf People. The scheme encourages care homes to develop their services to support deaf residents by providing deaf awareness training for all care staff members. Each home is then assessed on its accessibility, its engagement with older deaf people, whether it has enough British Sign Language staff members, and whether it has recruited enough staff that have had previous experience working with deaf people.
Four Seasons Health Care’s Marlborough Court Care Home in Thamesmead was one of only three sites selected in the UK to participate in a deaf pilot scheme and was the first home in the country to obtain the new Care Quality Mark for Older Deaf People in April this year. The home implemented a number of new practices and procedures in order to meet the benchmark requirements, including the installation of Wi-Fi and provision of iPads. Deaf residents will now be able to regularly communicate and connect with their loved ones outside of the home, as well as being able to interact easily with residents and staff members.
It is estimated that by 2035 there will be between 11,500 and 26,680 deaf people who are over the age of 65 living in the UK; it is vital that care homes develop their services to accommodate this demographic. If placed in a standard care home with staff and residents who are unable to communicate through sign language, deaf residents will be unable to express their needs or thoughts to others. This can potentially result in their isolation from the rest of the home’s community; a sad and lonely experience for both them to endure and their family members to witness.
Care homes across the country are now working towards attaining the Care Quality Mark for Older Deaf People and it is hoped that between 10 and 15 care homes will be accredited by the end of the year.
Encouraging care homes to work towards gaining the Care Quality Mark for Older Deaf People is critical if we are to ensure that deaf elderly people receive care that promotes their wellbeing and allows for regular social interaction.
Read more by clicking here http://royaldeaf.org.uk/newsid_154/Four_Seasons_Care_Home_receives_first_Deaf_Aware_Care_Quality_Mark