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Bucks Trust one of the least disabled friendly environments

It was 10% below the national average score.

Published by Scarlett Bawden-Gaul at 5:47am 6th March 2020. 5-minute read.

Bucks Trust one of the least disabled friendly environments

A recent survey has found Bucks NHS trust is one of the least disabled-friendly environments.

Disabled patients in the care of Buckinghamshire Healthcare NHS Trust face one of the least disability-friendly environments in the country, new data shows.

Charities are urging healthcare providers across England to make "vital" adjustments to promote independence and reduce the anxiety of hospital visits for patients living with dementia or a disability.

Patient-led evaluations – known as PLACE assessments – are carried out annually in a bid to drive improvement in the quality of patient environments at NHS hospitals and hospices across England.

They involve volunteers going into hospitals as part of teams to rate the non-clinical elements of care, such as catering services and waiting facilities. Areas including cleanliness, patient privacy and the quality of food are reviewed, alongside the way sites support people with dementia and disabilities.

The NHS Digital figures reveal that Buckinghamshire Healthcare NHS Trust scored 71.9% for offering a disability-friendly environment, in comparison to the national average of 82.5%.

Volunteers determining if a site is disability-friendly will look at whether there are handrails in corridors and at least one toilet large enough for a wheelchair and carer, among other criteria.

Stoke Mandeville Hospital
Stoke Mandeville Hospital is the birthplace of the Paralympic movement

NHS data shows that more than a third of trusts are not meeting the national average for disability, while just under 30% are falling below the national figure for dementia. The national average incorporates scores from private, independent and voluntary providers which also took part in PLACE assessments.

A spokesman for charity Disability Rights UK said:

"This situation is unbelievable, particularly given the number of disabled people who will be visiting hospitals.

"We urge NHS Trusts to act to make their environments accessible to all as a priority."

PLACE assessors will also judge the quality of the environment for people with dementia at NHS sites, including whether floors are plain coloured and non-slippery, signs are clearly visible and the correct day, date and time is visible in patient areas, among several other criteria.

Buckinghamshire Healthcare NHS Trust scored 70.6% for how it accommodates people with dementia – the national average was 80.7%.

Emma Bould, programme partnerships manager at dementia charity Alzheimer’s Society, said:

"We know that staying in hospital can often be a stressful experience, especially for a person with dementia who may be more easily disorientated or confused.

"By listening to patients and making dementia-friendly adaptions to a hospital setting, hospitals can be transformed into safe spaces that will give people a sense of independence and reduce anxiety.

"There are now 850,000 people living with dementia in the UK, and with numbers predicted to double for the next generation, it’s vital that all hospital sites make reasonable adjustments and adopt dementia-friendly practices."

Amersham Hospital

How did Buckinghamshire Healthcare NHS Trust score in its latest PLACE assessment?

  • Cleanliness - 99.5%
  • Food - 93.8%
  • Patients' privacy, dignity and wellbeing - 85.2%
  • Condition, appearance and maintenance - 96.3%
  • Dementia-friendly - 70.6%
  • Disability-friendly - 71.9%

The Trust have provided a statement:

“We are committed to providing facilities that meet the needs of all our patients so they can access our care and services without barrier, discomfort or stress. We acknowledge that the rating in the PLACE assessments (published at the end of January) for both dementia and disability are below the national average and are fully aware that there is much work to be done in certain areas of the Trust estate. Our priority is to improve accessibility to patients who may have a disability or impairment, however we also have a significantly aged estate which creates many challenges to achieve this.

"We have implemented dementia-friendly initiatives on our elderly care inpatient wards, for example clearly differentiating rooms with colour, improving lighting and flooring and our national spinal injuries centre provides a flagship service for patients who have a disability as a result of a spinal cord injury.

"Last year we invited the independent organisation ‘Disabled-Go’ to audit all of our services and buildings and provide guidance for patients planning to visit our hospitals and healthcare settings.

"The insight gained from this kind of audit and through Patient-Led Assessments of our Care Environments (PLACE) gives the Trust clear information about the changes that need to be made so we can continue to improve and provide a great experience for all our patients and visitors.”

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