North Middlesex University Hospital NHS Trust and Healthwatch Enfield announce a new initiative to help improve the experience of disabled patients

North Middlesex University Hospital NHS Trust and Healthwatch Enfield are pleased to announce a new initiative to help improve the experience of disabled patients who visit the hospital.

Open2All is an innovative project that seeks to improve access for disabled patients and the way in which staff respond to their needs.

As part of the project, Healthwatch Enfield will place disabled people from local communities alongside reception staff at North Mid to provide mentoring, coaching and support on access considerations for those who: are blind and visually impaired; are deaf; have physical disability; have Learning Difficulties or autism

Trial mentoring sessions were piloted and evaluated in on-the-job coaching work-shops during July and August in Outpatients Clinics. A lead facilitator from one of the identified disabled groups worked directly with reception staff to fine tune delivery of the programme.

“Feedback from staff was exceptionally positive with many having ‘light bulb’ moments when being presented with situations from a totally new perspective,” says Fazilla Amide, Community Engagement Manager at Healthwatch Enfield. Fazilla has been working closely with local people and staff at North Mid since March 2018 to develop the sessions. “The staff have been so receptive, there is a genuine desire to get this right for the disabled community.”

By carrying out the bulk of the sessions in-situ, staff can learn ‘on-the-job’ which helps minimise the amount of time needed for classroom-based learning. The aim is for them to benefit from enhanced skills and confidence in dealing with disabled people and be able to share this expertise with other staff within the Trust to leave a lasting legacy.

Patricia Mecinska, Chief Executive of Healthwatch Enfield told us “As key stakeholders in this project, we utilise principles of co-production between the Trust and people with lived-in experience of disability. Essentially, patients from the disabled groups we are trying to help are the best people to tell us what they need, it forms the very foundation of this initiative”.

According to 2011 Census, the number of disabled people living in the locality of North Mid was around 83,642. “That is a significant percentage of our local population” says Shelagh Prosser, Associate Director of Equality, Diversity and Inclusion at North Mid. “Our reception staff care about delivering a good service to all our patients, that means ensuring disabled people also have positive experience. The Open2All initiative empowers our staff to do just that.”

Open2All began rolling out its coaching sessions across all reception area in September 2018.

For more information or to be part of this or future projects please contact Healthwatch Enfield on 020 8373 6283.

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