KidsAudiologist

My Life, My Health

Posted on: February 4, 2014

My Life, My Health Logo

Today saw the launch of  My life, My health – a call on GPs and surgeries to be more deaf aware and ensure deaf teenagers get the health support they need. The My life, My health campaign has been developed by the National Deaf Children’s Society and its Young People’s Advisory Board, is supported by the Royal College of Paediatricians and Child Health, and is the first health campaign of its kind led by deaf young people. More than 200 deaf children and young people from across the UK were consulted to find out about their experiences of using health services, including visiting their GP.

The findings, published in a new report, suggest there is currently a worrying lack of deaf awareness in GP surgeries. Many health care professionals do not know how to communicate with a deaf child or young person. Surgeries do not always provide deaf friendly services, such as the option to book appointments by text message, or ensure sign language interpreters are available.

Findings also suggest deaf teenagers struggle to know when their name has been called, or understand what is happening during their appointment. Other deaf teenagers lack confidence in managing their own health care appointments.

Lucy Read, Head of Children and Young People’s Participation at the National Deaf Children’s Society, said: “Young people have the right to high quality, accessible health care services. However, this is not always their experience and certainly not for those from vulnerable groups, such as deaf teenagers. There are 45,000 deaf children and young people in the UK and it is unacceptable that their health should be compromised simply because they are deaf. It is vital they receive the right health support from an early age, as this also ensures they can go on to become independent adults.”

Dr Hilary Cass, President, Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health said: As child health professionals, we have to get better at communicating with deaf teenagers. Simple steps such as making information more accessible can make a real difference to the lives of these young people.

“It’s shocking that too many deaf young people are at risk of poorer health outcomes as adults simply because they are deaf. There is no reason why, with the right support, deaf teenagers can’t be as healthy, informed and independent as other young people. This report and its recommendations provide a timely reminder that there is still a way to go to ensure that deaf children and young people have more voice, choice and control over their healthcare.”

The My life, My health campaign highlights three key areas that need to be addressed: better deaf awareness; improved access to information and ensuring the right communication support is in place; supporting deaf teenagers to become more independent in managing their own health care.

The National Deaf Children’s Society and its Young People’s Advisory Board have created a range of resources for GPs, deaf teenagers and their parents, including top tips for GPs, and a wallet sized card that deaf teenagers can show their GP with details of their communication needs. More information, including a campaign video and resources, can be found here.

Follow the day’s events on Twitter at #mylifemyhealth

(Source NDCS Press Release 4th February 2014)

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