Nurse Educator Zoe Perkins, who is based in Wellington Regional Hospital's Ward 6 North - Orthopaedic and Urology, recently reached out to the Disability Strategy team for guidance on caring for a Deaf consumer, Sean. The 6 North team knew there was a potential challenge in communicating with Sean, and vice versa.
To make sure the team could fully understand Sean, the Disability Equity team and a New Zealand Sign Language interpreter met with him to make a plan. This was an important first step, which established what would best enable and empower Sean while in the care of the hospital, along with reassuring him that Zoe would organise face-to-face NZSL interpreters at critical points of his healthcare journey.
The Disability Strategy team's NZSL Lead Shannon Morris then met with the clinical team at 6 North to train them, giving them communication tips and guidance on what to expect and how to resolve potential barriers. The tips included quickly removing face masks when communicating with him, and placing an 'I'm Deaf' sign on the end of his bed.
Shannon also supported Zoe to create meaningful resources for Sean to use so he would still be able to communicate when there were no interpreters available, or when staff were making quick checks.
Thanks to the efforts of Zoe, Shannon, and the wider team, Sean was able to use NZSL during his stay. Sean felt safe and comfortable, and Zoe and the clinical team felt empowered, and proud to have achieved a successful outcome for him.
For information or support to enable disabled people's healthcare journey, contact 0800 Disability or email firstname.lastname@example.org.