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2015 has been a busy year for Wales Council. We have developed links with Hywel Dda Health Board and Cwm Taf Health Board, working closely on a very successful awareness project designed to make Health Board staff more aware of the communication and support needs of people with sensory loss.

Our rolling programme of training events is helping the Board’s front line staff gain a better understanding of some of the challenges their patients face in many areas of interaction with medical services. Many of the most basic activities can be much more difficult for patients with hearing and/or sight loss, yet being more aware and making relatively simple (and often inexpensive) changes or adaptations can make life a lot easier for all concerned.

Awareness of the need for effective communication is the most important outcome of the training. Different people will have different communication needs depending on their personal health circumstances and a simple yet vital question that can be asked is “How can we help you today?”

It is also important that staff appreciate the importance of identifying and recording ongoing communication needs of patients to ensure that suitable ongoing support (e.g. BSL interpretation) is in place for all appointments.

During 2015 the Wales Council is particularly delighted to have had the opportunity to work with Hywel Dda and develop an increasingly close and valuable relationship. Our partnership is now extending into further areas where we will provide support and training. We are also delighted to be providing Hywel Dda patients with a range of interpretation services through our communication agency and we look forward to building on this throughout 2016 and beyond.