Case Study
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Dartford and Gravesham NSH trust logo

We spoke with Denise Aspland, Head of Clinical Education at Dartford and Gravesham NHS Trust, about their requirements for deaf awareness training and improving the deaf patient experience.

How did you discover terptree?

We recognised the need within the organisation to have some sort of basic sign language or Deaf Awareness – particularly from Covid. One of our clinical engineers, Dave, is profoundly deaf himself and is part of our EDI [Equality, Diversity, and Inclusion] team. So, with his help, we recognised that we needed this. He did some groundwork, and he emailed lots of different companies around “What can you offer?”, “This is what we’re looking for”, and I think that’s how he found you guys. We then set up a meeting call to see if you really met what we needed and our requirements. We had an e-learning module which wasn’t really fit for purpose and the feedback wasn’t great – so what we had previously tapped into didn’t work.

What function has terptree performed for your organisation?

So far, you’ve delivered some workshops which were online but live, so they’re interactive. The feedback from that was really phenomenal. A lot of people have come into the office and said they really enjoyed [it], “I’ve recommended it to some friends”, “When are you running the next one?”.

That was our Deaf Awareness online class. Now we’re doing some work to get BSL Level 1 for 12 staff signed up. Yeah, so that’s a bigger course. It’s taking a bit more work for us because we need to make sure we’ve got the right people and that’s a big commitment. 

How has the process been so far?

Good communication, lots of emails. I think, for me, from my point of view, understanding. We had lots of other things going on and terptree was really patient with us, like “All right, that’s fine, just contact us when you can” and then gave me a prompt email, which was great, it was kind of what I needed. “Hi, just checking in, we’re here, if you still need us”. Communication has probably been the best element of it – and patience and understanding.

What benefits has this brought?

We’ve only done one of two workshops so the impact I don’t think has been massive yet, but we wanted to trial it, see what it was like, and see what the feedback was like. We need to sort out another couple of workshops because they were really well evaluated. I don’t know that we’ve seen an outcome yet, but I’d like to think that patient customer service has been improved.

Would you recommend terptree and why?

10/10. Exactly the reasons I’ve explained, particularly about being patient with us and having an understanding and good communication. It wasn’t really a ‘hard sell’. I get a lot of hard selling in my line of work, and I didn’t feel it was like that; it was “this is our service, this is what we can offer you, we would like to work with you, let us know when you’re ready”. And that was what was nice about it.

What is your advice to others who might be considering engaging with terptree?

A lot of your staff are deaf themselves, so it’s coming from the heart, of your organisation, which I think is really important as well. [terptree] are supportive. It will improve patient outcomes because you’ll hopefully be able to reduce your patient complaints and make sure that you’re being inclusive of patients and staff.

Was there anything else you wanted to add?

I’m quite looking forward to the BSL. From my point of view, I was a little bit surprised at how long it takes. I think we had these rose-tinted glasses that you can do a couple of courses and then you can sign. And actually – it is completely unrealistic and it takes seven years to be a full interpreter. So that was really an eye-opener for us as well. They won’t be able to have the skills to interpret things such as “So you have cancer”, and “This is a treatment”, but it might help “Hello, how are you? Have you got any pain today?” – the more simplified stuff, which is still really important. I think it’s an awareness of what sign language is all about and being deaf is aware of what that is all about as well. So that was a real eye-opener. 

And you were understanding of our needs and where this was in what we needed to do. We need to get some more Deaf Awareness [sessions] in. They were really well received.

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