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Simon Cramp describes his work with Chesterfield Royal Hospital to develop and launch a booklet so that patients who find communicating with clinical staff difficult have all their information in one place, making hospital appointments and admissions easier for patients and staff.
My twin brother and I were born three weeks early, weighing less than two bags of sugar and to begin with we didn’t breathe.
We were born in August 1971 in a theatre, not an operating theatre but a lecture theatre so that the student nurses and doctors could observe a multiple birth.
My brother died just over three years ago and I was born with a learning disability, long term heart problems, diabetes, arthritis, dyslexia and dyspraxia, so I sometimes get my words in a muddle and I am very clumsy. I take lots of different tablets but I am just grateful to be alive and living in my own home.
About 18 months ago I had to go into hospital to have a procedure checking how my heart was doing. It meant I needed to stay in hospital overnight.
I found out that when people go into hospital as an emergency, or for something which is planned like mine, they can’t use the medicines they would usually take at home because a hospital doctor needs to give you another prescription. This meant that I didn’t get my normal tablets until midnight. I was also given a bed on a ward where someone was talking all the time which meant I couldn’t get to sleep easily.
I thought this wasn’t very good for people with a learning disability as sometimes we find it hard to communicate with clinical staff or have things we need to talk about which are sensitive or difficult. So I talked to the patient and liaison service (PALS) about how we could make things better.
I suggested we developed a patient passport or, as the hospital has called it, the ‘About me’ booklet.
It includes the ways a person likes to be communicated with and other things staff need to be aware of. It fits easily into a pocket or handbag and is an easy-to-use reference guide. It’s intended to help health professionals during clinical discussions with patients that go beyond what is included in a person’s medical record.
The passport asks about things like what people think they are taking medication for, do they need glasses, how they normally behave and it’s all about helping people with autism, a learning disability, mental health or sensory problems. The book stays with the patient and can be added to the red bag scheme for those people who are being admitted to hospital in an emergency.
Vikki Develin, the Trust’s Patient Experience Manager, explained: “The booklet highlights straight away whether a patient has any communication difficulties. It will allow our clinicians to see, at a glance, some of the vital information that they would possibly have difficulty obtaining, as well as helping them to quickly understand how they can best communicate with the person they are seeing”.
I am really grateful to the staff from the hospital for taking my idea on board and working together to develop it.
The ‘About Me’ books can be picked up from PALS in the hospitals main entrance and will also be handed out to patients on the wards and in outpatient clinics. I hope that having the booklet will help make people’s experience of hospital better and will be a helpful tool for the Trust to improve patient care.
- For more information about the scheme visit the Chesterfield Royal Hospital NHS Trust Foundation website.
- Don’t miss the ‘Ask.Listen.Do’ session being staged at Expo 2018 on September 6 between 11.30am and 12noon as a mini theatre session on the NHS England/NHS Improvement stand.
The session is entitled ‘Workforce and Leadership Development in health, social care and education through Ask Listen Do’, and looks at how strong practitioners or organisations are at asking, listening and doing in relation to their contact with, service provision or commissioning for children and adults with a learning disability, autism or both and their families.