Ensuring blind and partially sighted people receive accessible healthcare

Bristol Sight Loss Council (SLC) and North Bristol NHS Trust have joined forces to improve the experience of blind and partially sighted people when accessing healthcare.

We are marking both Disability History Month and SLC’s Listening Month 2022 with Thomas Pocklington Trust, as we celebrate our achievements.

Going to the hospital can be daunting for anyone but, for blind and partially sighted people, the experience can be very challenging. This ranges from the barriers in communication before a visit to the potential challenges once at the hospital.

We want to ensure better accessibility. In turn, this improves healthcare, patient experience and outcomes for blind and partially sighted people.

Working in partnership

Bristol Sight Loss Council has been working with North Bristol NHS Trust (NBT) for several years now as part of its national Make Health Accessible campaign. Together, we have developed:

  • in person visual awareness training sessions for staff and volunteers, with over 100 people trained so far
  • creation of a visual impairment awareness e-learning session
  • volunteer sighted assistance process
  • handover process
  • sharing of patient experience across NBT
  • creation of the Accessible Information Standards Steering Group and action plan.

Accessible Information Standard Campaign

Early this year, SLCs, working with University Hospitals Bristol and Weston NHS Foundation Trust (UHBW), launched two films designed to improve health information for blind and partially sighted people across the country. This forms part of the national SLC Accessible Health Standard campaign to make healthcare accessible for blind and partially sighted people.

This month, North Bristol Trust is running its own Accessible Information Standards (AIS) Campaign to share with all staff the importance and practical steps of the standard. This standard ensures patients with a disability, impairment or sensory loss receive information in the way they need. It also ensures they receive communication support.

Bristol Sight Loss Council member Emma with North Bristol NHS Trust (NBT) staff member Ann who is wearing a clear face mask at a table with information on AIS in Gate 6 Brunel Building NBT.

Bristol Sight Loss Council member Emma with North Bristol NHS Trust (NBT) staff member Ann promoting the AIS campaign to staff

Bristol Sight Loss Council is supporting the campaign which will highlight the steps staff can take to support patients, the training on offer and information on how to meet patients’ needs.

Volunteers from Bristol Sight Loss Council are also joining staff from NBT across the Trust to share their experience and increase awareness of the AIS.

Heather Armstrong, a volunteer for BSLC, commented about their partnership with NBT

“Working in partnership with NBT is starting to produce meaningful results. This includes some evidence of improved experience from blind and partially sighted people, as well as increased confidence of staff and volunteers in supporting them.  This demonstrates the power of involvement of people with lived experience right from the start and throughout the process of change. BSLC congratulates NBT on welcoming and implementing such involvement.”

Juliette Hughes, Deputy Chief Nursing Officer at North Bristol Trust, said:

“We are very grateful to all the patient representatives who are helping us to ensure North Bristol Trust is accessible to all. We want all patients to have a good experience and fair access regardless of disability, sensory loss or impairment. We are committed to meeting the accessible information standards and have already made progress. We recognise we still have work to do and are determined to do this with our patient partners.”

View our ‘Make AIS work’ film

Further reading


Publication date: 08 December 2022

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