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Accessible Communications Policy

Our Accessible Communications for RNID local services was updated in 2021

Purpose

The NHS England Accessible Information Standard (AIS) was introduced in July 2016 and applies to all providers of NHS and publicly funded adult social care. The AIS directs and defines a specific, consistent approach to meeting a person’s information and communication needs that relate to a disability, impairment or sensory loss and are therefore protected by the Equality Act 2010.

The AIS is particularly relevant to people who have hearing loss, sight loss, are deaf or deafblind and have additional needs such as a learning disability, mental health.

RNID supports the aims of the AIS and has been heavily involved in the development and the post-implementation review of the Standard as a member of NHS England’s Accessible Information Advisory Group.

Research shows that people who are deaf or have hearing loss often face unnecessary and costly communication issues when they try to access health and social care. The AIS aims to change this and make sure people who are deaf or have hearing loss get the right support to communicate, when they need it.

This policy will enable RNID community services in England to meet the legal requirements of the AIS.

This policy will ensure that systems and processes are in place for RNID services to identify, record, flag, share and meet the information and communication support needs of people we support, their families and/or carers where those needs relate to a disability, impairment, or sensory loss.

We will ensure that people are able to access our complaints policy in an appropriate format.

Who is it for and what is in it?

This policy applies to RNID Community Services in England only.

This policy describes how we will meet the requirements of the AIS and explains the procedures for each service type.

Responsibility

• Community Services England – All staff providing Community Services will follow the five key procedures.

Policy

RNID is committed to implementing and following the five distinct steps of meeting the Accessible Information Standard (AIS). These are:

  1. Identification of needs: a consistent approach to the identification of information and communication needs for the people we support, where they relate to a disability, impairment or sensory loss.
  2. Recording of needs: a consistent and routine recording of information and communication needs as part of our records or systems. The use of different categories of information and communication needs – defined by the AIS when recording information in paper or electronic records.
  3. Flagging of needs: establishment and use of electronic flags or alerts, or paper-based equivalents, to ensure records of communication and /or information needs are highly visible to prompt staff to take appropriate action and / or trigger auto-generation of information in an accessible format / other actions such that those needs can be met.
  4. Sharing of needs: inclusion of recorded data about individuals’ information and / or communication support needs as part of existing data-sharing processes, and as a routine part of referral, discharge and handover processes.
  5. Meeting of needs: taking steps to ensure that the individual receives information in an accessible format and any communication support which they need.

Procedure

All staff will be made aware of the importance of accessible information and communication and follow local processes and procedures to ensure:

  • A consistent approach to identification of information/ communication needs when a person first or next contacts the service.
  • A consistent and routine recording of information/communication needs as part of a person’s records using the different categories of information and communication needs as defined by the AIS terminology guidance.
  • Sharing of a person’s information and communication needs between those involved in their care or support including transfer between health or care provision, whilst following the Data Protection Act and Confidentiality and Disclosure of Information Policy.
  • Ensure that a person’s information and communication needs are recorded in a ‘highly visible’ manner and staff will take appropriate action so the person’s needs are met.
  • Steps are taken to ensure that individuals receive information in an alternative, accessible format and any communication support which they need.
  • Where an individual is unable to consent or provide information about their communication needs and the sharing of information, the principles of the Mental Capacity Act and best interest will be applied.

This procedure applies to England Community Services:

1. Identification of needs

  • Services that specifically address visual, hearing or dual sensory loss needs will assign a sensory support or rehabilitation officer to carry out an assessment for each person referred to the service. The assessment will identify any disability, impairment or sensory loss and will cover how this affects their ability to obtain information and their communication needs.
  • People using hearing aid support services for the first time will be asked by staff and volunteers to complete a registration form which identifies the person’s communication or information support needs. People already registered will be asked at each visit if they have any communication or information support needs.
  • People will be offered the option to complete the registration form themselves or staff/volunteers can go through it with them face to face to help identify their communication and information needs. If the person is unable to communicate what their needs are they may need support from a communication professional, and this will be provided at a future appointment or home visit.

2. Recording of needs

  • Information and communication support needs are recorded on the person’s paper and electronic files with communication and information needs highly visible. Information is recorded using the different categories of information and communication needs as defined by the AIS.
  • Information recorded about individual’s communication and information needs will be provided by the person themselves, or when this is not possible, by their informal carer or family member.

3. Flagging of needs

  • Rehabilitation or sensory support officers will access a person’s records to review and prepare before an appointment. Information and communication support needs are highly visible and highlighted on the cover and/or first page of the person’s file. This will include any instructions for the staff member to action in order to meet the person’s needs during the appointment.
  • Records will be reviewed with the person regularly for accuracy and to ensure their needs are still being met.
  • For hearing aid support services it may not always be possible to access a person’s records before they attend. Instead people will be asked at each visit if they have any communication support needs and appropriate action will be taken to ensure their communication needs are met.
  • In services where tablets are in use a person’s details can be accessed and any communication needs will be highly visible.
  • If we need to contact the person their preferred method and format of communication will be flagged up on their electronic record to ensure they are contacted in the correct way.

4. Sharing of needs

  • Each community service will have an agreed process of sharing and reporting information with the funding/commissioning body which complies with the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) legislation. We will ensure that information shared includes the person’s information and communication needs where appropriate.
  • When making a referral the relevant information including the person’s information and communication needs will be shared.

5. Meeting of needs

  • Community services will have systems in place to meet a person’s information and communication needs. These include:
    • Having multiple contact methods for people to access our services such as telephone, textphone, email and by text.
    • Contacting people using their preferred communication method such as by letter, telephone, email and text.
    • Having information available in easy read and standard large print (and ensuring specific font size and type are available on request), providing colour contrast for vision loss, braille or audio format.
    • Signposting people to accessible information available on our website including BSL video
    • If a person requests a communication professional the staff member will arrange an appointment or home visit and book the required communication support. Communication professionals booked using our internal system will be NRCPD registered.
    • Booking appointments based on the needs of the person, ensuring appointment times are long enough particularly when a communication professional is booked.
    • Staff and volunteers are trained as part of their induction and job role about sensory loss and how to support people with communication needs.

Leaflets and factsheets

RNID’ factsheets and leaflets are available in accessible formats such as large print, audio and braille upon request from our Information Line. Key information relevant to BSL users is translated into BSL video and is available on our website.

Website

Our website is designed to be accessible. Some key information is available in British Sign Language (BSL) video and the formatting and the layout of webpages are also compatible with assistive devices such as screen readers. The website will conform to Priority Level AA of the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG 2.0) where applicable.

Records

All records will be kept in line with recording procedures for each service type and with the Data Protection policy.

Training

No formal training is required for this policy.

Performance measures

We will monitor compliance with the standards through our quality assurance processes and local contract requirements.

Review period

This policy will be reviewed every 3 years.

Equality and diversity

An equality impact assessment has been completed for this policy.