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Deaf friendly Welsh Ambulance Service in line for new award

THE Welsh Ambulance Service has been shortlisted for a new award, the first of its kind in Wales.

The Trust is in line for an Excellence Wales Award, which has been launched by Action on Hearing Loss Cymru to recognise organisations that go the extra mile to ensure they are accessible to the one-in-six people who are deaf or hard of hearing.

The service has put in place a string of initiatives to ensure those with a hearing impairment can still communicate in an emergency situation.

Those who are ill or injured can contact the Welsh Ambulance Service via text message, for example.

The Trust has also developed a Medical Information Card, which patients can hand to ambulance crews in an emergency, and which lists their personal information, including their next of kin.

All vehicles carry a Pre-Hospital Communication Guide, a pocket-sized bilingual guide which uses pictures and words to explain to patients what crews need to do for them.

And just this month, the Trust has launched a film to school frontline crews on basic sign language.

It includes a ‘Hello, my name is...’ introduction, which is part of a wider campaign to encourage staff to introduce themselves to patients in order to establish a human connection and build trust.

Leanne Hawker, from the Trust’s Partners in Healthcare team, the force behind these specialist resources, said: “Good communication between our crews and patients is the key to better care and treatment.

“Deaf communities told us that if staff knew a few sign language phrases that it would go a long way to ease their anxiety in an emergency.

“We’re proud to have been shortlisted for this award, which signals that the services we are delivering for deaf people in Wales really are making a difference.”

The Trust is one of seven finalists, and the only healthcare body in Wales in the running for an award.

An independent judging panel will now decide on the Gold, Silver and Bronze category winners, which will be announced at the Action on Hearing Loss Cymru Gala dinner on May 15 at the Hilton Hotel in Cardiff.

Richard Williams, Director of Action on Hearing Loss Cymru, said: “We’d like to congratulate all shortlisted entrants, who are recognised for the steps they are taking to be accessible to the 530,000 people in Wales who are confronting deafness, tinnitus and hearing loss.

“We hope that more organisations across Wales will see them as role models of how to provide accessible services.

“We’re very excited to be launching this award for the first time and we hope in future years we’ll be able to expand the criteria to reward more organisations doing well in Wales.”

Search for ‘Deaf and Hard of Hearing’ on the Welsh Ambulance Service website for more information.