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Achieving the Accessible Information Standard (England) Policy

Policy Aims

This policy shows how {{org_field_name}} ensures effective communication with the people using its service and those involved in their care throughout its relationships with them. The policy complies with the requirements to achieve the Accessible Information Standard made under the Health and Social Care Act 2012 and for registration purposes.

The policy should be used in relation to the Meeting Communication Needs Policy.

Policy Background

{{org_field_name}} recognises its legal and ethical duties relating to effective communication and the provision of information which includes the following.

  1. A duty under s.250 of the Health and Social Care Act 2012 which requires all organisations that provide NHS services or publicly funded adult social care to achieve the Accessible Information Standard.
  2. A duty under the Equality Act 2010 to eliminate discrimination and make reasonable adjustments for disabled people, such as those with hearing or visual impairments, including taking steps to put information into accessible formats if a disabled person is at a substantial disadvantage if this is not done.
  3. The Health and Social Care Act 2008 (Regulated Activities) Regulations 2014 include the following requirements, which fall within the scope of this policy.
  4. Regulation 9: Person-centred Care requires care providers to work in partnership with a person who uses the services to identify and assess their needs, which involves listening to the person and where they find it difficult to communicate their needs, wants and preferences, using different means to obtain the information sought so that the resulting plan of care and support is truly ā€œperson-centredā€.
  5. Regulation 10: Dignity and Respect requires people using the service to be treated with dignity and respect at all times and have their needs for privacy respected. Care Quality Commission guidance states ā€œall communication with people using services must be respectful. This includes using or facilitating the most suitable means of communication and respecting a personā€™s right to engage or not to engage in communicationā€.
  6. Regulation 11: Need for Consent requires care providers to ensure that people using their service agree to any care, treatment and support proposed and where they lack the mental capacity to give their consent every effort is made to reach a decision which would most likely reflect their decisions if they were able to communicate with them directly.
  7. Regulations 12: Safe Care and Treatment and 13: Safeguarding Service Users from Abuse and Improper Treatment also require effective communication between service provider and user, and where involved, other agencies.
  8. Regulation 17: Good Governance requires care providers to seek the views and opinions of the people using their service and stakeholders on the services provided and standards achieved. This requirement can be met by {{org_field_name}} continuously listening to the people using their service as well as through the formal regular questionnaires and ā€œcustomerā€ surveys that are also required by the Regulation.

The Accessible Information Standard

The Accessible Information Standard requires all health and care providers to carry out the following actions to ensure that their usersā€™ communication needs are being fully and adequately addressed throughout their care, treatment and support.

{{org_field_name}} is legally required to carry out the following.

  1. Find out if an individual has any communication/information needs relating to a disability or sensory loss and if so what they are.
  2. Record those needs clearly and in a standard way on all of an individualā€™s care records and documents.
  3. Highlight them in their care records so everyone who has to communicate with that person and has access to their records can address their communication needs in line with the individualā€™s communication plan.
  4. Where required and relevant, pass on to others an individualā€™s information/communication needs and how they should be addressed.
  5. Ensure that each individual receives information which they can access and, understand and receive communication support if they need it throughout their care, support and treatment.

{{org_field_name}} understands that communication and the provision of information is a fundamental part of treating people with dignity and respect and in providing good, compassionate care. Furthermore, the service recognises that effective communication can be affected by conditions such as dementia, stroke, hearing conditions, sight loss or cases where the person lacks capacity to make decisions.

Policy Statement

This care provider recognises the importance of effective communication with the people using its service, their relatives and carers and the importance of providing information that enables them to receive appropriate person-centred care and support. It also recognises that people must receive safe care and are not put at risk of harm because of lack of or ineffective communication with their service provider.

{{org_field_name}} is committed to developing the most effective ways of communicating with the people using its services, using all of the means needed and available to ensure that communications are effective.

It will make all reasonable adjustments to ensure that it communicates with any person using its service with a recognised information/communication impairment and for that person to communicate effectively with everyone involved in meeting their care needs.

It recognises that people can communicate with one another in many different ways, for example: by speaking and listening, through gestures and expressions, in writing, by using pictures and symbols and through touch. They might also need special aids and appliances to help them communicate should they have difficulties in using their natural faculties to do so, for example, because of physical, sensory and intellectual impairments.

Care staff, in addition to general training in effective communication, receive specific instruction on individualsā€™ preferred and required ways of communicating.

The service will support the people using its service to find advocates to help people to express their communication needs and, where needed, interpreters for people whose first language is not English (though it recognises that this aspect is strictly speaking not part of the Accessible Information Standard).

{{org_field_name}} will use visual and technical aids to ensure there is effective communication with its users. Examples of these include signage in premises for people with dementia and the use of Makaton in services for people with learning disabilities.

{{org_field_name}} will always respond promptly to any difficulties in communication with the people who use their services and those involved in their care and review regularly the effectiveness of its communication methods with individuals and for the service as a whole.

Procedures

Step 1 of the Accessible Information Standard

To find out if an individual has any communication/information needs relating to a disability or sensory loss and if so what they are.

People who use services have the right to be communicated with and receive sufficient information about their care and treatment so that they make a balanced judgment whether or not to give their consent.

To be responsive to individualsā€™ communication needs, {{org_field_name}} adopts a ā€œwhole personā€ approach by identifying the most effective means of communicating with that individual, where necessary, with specialist help, which is also based on their views and preferred ways of communicating. The results are written into their plan of care and highlighted in it, particularly where other than standard means of communication are required.

People who use services who have difficulty in communicating their needs because of their difficulties or impairments will be offered or recommended that they have access to specialist support. This may be in the form of assessments by speech and language therapists, psychological assessments and advisers from organisations specialising in disabilities and sensory impairments.

It is possible that new people to the servicesā€™ communication needs will already have been identified by other health and care agencies involved, but we will always check that these needs have been accurately assessed and addressed so that we can communicate effectively with the person about their care needs and deliver the appropriate care.

Steps 2 and 3 of the Accessible Information Standard

(2) To record the personā€™s communication needs clearly and in a standard way on all of an individualā€™s care records and documents.

(3) To highlight a personā€™s communication needs on their care records so everyone who has to communicate with that person and has access to their records can address their communication needs in line with the individualā€™s communication plan.

We will clearly record in a highlighted separate section of the personā€™s care records the relevant information. Everyone involved in the personā€™s care and support will know how to communicate effectively with that person.

We will discuss with the person as part of the care planning process (and, if necessary, in consultation with other professionals and agencies) what adjustments and interventions are needed to improve communication with that person.

Agreed methods of communication and interventions will be recorded in the personā€™s care plan in a prominent and consistent way so that all care staff know exactly what has been agreed to meet the needs of people using the service, their relatives and carers.

Step 4 of the Accessible Information Standard

To pass on where it is required and relevant to others an individualā€™s information/communication needs and how they should be addressed.

All staff who have access to a userā€™s care records will be aware from the records of that personā€™s communication needs and support plan. They are also expected to impart and share the facts of a personā€™s specific communication needs and support plans with others involved in that personā€™s care, support and treatment, but who might not have authorised access to the personā€™s care records.

Where someone transfers to another service or receives care from another service, we will, with the personā€™s permission, share information that we are requested to provide about their communication and information needs (along with other information sharing) with the receiving service.

Where it is suspected that a person does not have the mental capacity to communicate, or in any other way has no ability to communicate, then the provisions of the Mental Capacity Act 2005 will be implemented and best interestsā€™ decisions made with the involvement of people close to the person using the service, such as relatives, carers or advocates.

Step 5 of the Accessible Information Standard

To ensure that individuals receive information which they can access and understand, and receive communication support if they need it throughout their care, support and treatment.

All reasonable adjustments will be made to meet the communication needs of people with sensory difficulties, including people with visual and hearing difficulties.

Where required and appropriate to the role of {{org_field_name}}, we will provide or facilitate the sourcing and provision of resources and assistive technology such as Braille books and magazines, large print/easy read copies of literature, British Sign Language interpreters for deaf people, Braille or talking telephones and mobile phones, hearing aids, text phones, loop hearing systems, etc.

For any person using the services, family member or carer who might require it, advocacy will be provided or sought to help meet their communication and information needs.

All staff are responsible for helping to deliver this policy by communicating in a way that is accessible to every user of this service.

Training

All care staff will receive training as relevant to their roles and responsibilities in the care of people with hearing and sight problems and disabilities, which will include learning about communication techniques and providing accessible information.

Care staff:


Responsible Person: {{org_field_registered_manager_first_name}} {{org_field_registered_manager_last_name}}

Reviewed on: {{last_update_date}}

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