9-15 October is Hospice Care Week; a chance to celebrate hospice care nationwide, and the incredible work that is being done to make sure everyone can benefit from the very best end of life care.
At Saint Francis Hospice, this year’s theme is We are Hospice Care – putting the spotlight on the staff and volunteers who ensure people receive the best palliative and end-of-life care they deserve.
Communication is key when it comes to providing the best care and support for patients and families. Last year the British Sign Language Act was passed recognising BSL as a language in England, Scotland and Wales and the language has been in the spotlight with the latest series of The Great British Bake Off which features Tasha Stones, the first ever deaf contestant.
Here we share how staff at Saint Francis Hospice have been learning BSL so they can improve how they support people who are deaf or hard of hearing.
Twenty-two staff from across the hospice took up the opportunity to learn British Sign Language this year to help make its services more accessible and inclusive for people from the deaf and hard of hearing community.
The course, led by Audrius Kiminius, Director of BSL Now and Interpreter Yona Hayden, started in January and ran for 10 weeks. Staff learned basic BSL language skills and 20 staff went on to complete a further 10-week course gaining further skills and qualifications.
“I would like to celebrate the resounding success of our British Sign Language course,” said CEO Pam Court.
“By making our services accessible to the deaf and hard-of-hearing community, we have taking significant strides towards inclusivity and equality in healthcare.
“At Saint Francis Hospice one of our core values is Always Learning and I’m so proud of all the staff who signed up to learn British Sign Language.”
Staff have already been able to put their new language skills into practice to communicate with service users and customers visiting our retail shops.
“I learned something I always wanted to do and made good friends,” said Tracey Lewis, Retail Team Leader at the Brentwood superstore.
“It will also benefit the hospice and our customers, many of whom have hearing loss. Some of our volunteers use sign language too.
“The course took place in our education centre and I loved coming to the hospice – It felt calm, and I felt close to my mum who was cared for by the charity.”