Patient Story


 Public Board



Report Title:

 Patient Story

Agenda Item:



 Victoria Boyce, Patient and Public Involvement Manager

Lead Director:

Melissa Dowdeswell, Director of Nursing, Quality & Safety and Acting Chief Operating Officer


SR2: If we do not deliver operational and clinical standards then there is a risk of poor patient outcomes and experience


SR3: If we do not ensure we have the ability to plan, influence and deliver across our systems to secure change, we will not be able to meet the needs of our public and communities

Equality Impact Assessment

No negative impact identified



Negative impact identified:



Sexual Orientation




Gender Reassignment








Pregnancy and Maternity


Marriage and civil partnership




The recommendation is for Trust Board to consider the patient story and the challenges faced by patients with communication needs included below.

Previously considered by:

This patient story has been considered by the Director of Nursing, Quality and Safety and Patient Experience Team for assurance.


The purpose of this paper is to share the need to raise awareness and develop our services for patients with communication needs in the community. Resources have been developed with further training taking place throughout 2023.

Executive Summary

This patient story is about Mrs Porter and her experiences of accessing emergency support as a member of the deaf community. This discovery interview was completed with Mrs Porter and a British Sign Language (BSL) Interpreter.

Mrs Porter has not raised a complaint, but contacted the PALS team, wanting to share her experiences to support the Trust to learn and develop the services that we provide to our patients with sensory disabilities.

Mrs Porter explains the challenges that she has faced in using text relay systems to contact 999 with BSL as her first language. She has described how her communication needs affect her whilst waiting for an ambulance and throughout interactions with crews.

Mrs Porter has raised how important family support is to enable her communication with EEAST crews and other health services.

Learning has taken place since Mrs Porter’s experience, giving the Trust a greater understanding of what it is like for patients with hearing loss when needing to call 999 for an ambulance. Resources have been made available to crews over the last year which will be shared and communicated alongside Mrs Porter’s video to our staff.

Introduction/ Background

Mrs Porter contacted a local hospital to raise the challenges that she has faced in accessing health services, they signposted her to the PALS Team at EEAST. It was recognised that she wanted to share her story with us, in person to support learning and understanding of what it is like in an emergency, when you have no hearing or speaking ability.

Mrs Porter has contacted 999 via the text relay system. She describes how difficult this can be, when British Sign Language is your main form of communication, you are feeling unwell and written English is your second language.

On occasions, Mrs Porter has experienced delays in an ambulance attending. She explains that due to being unable to call for an update, it can make a patient feel left, not knowing when help might come.

Mrs Porter explains the importance of using her doorbell which activates a vibrating pendant to alert her that someone is coming into her property, rather than just using a key safe as it can be alarming when a Paramedic appears in the room with her.

In some experiences that Mrs Porter has had with our crews, she has been supported by her son who is able to interpret for her. She explains that in these instances, there is no direct communication with her which can leave a patient feeling that the Clinicians may not have a full understanding of what is happening for the patient.

Mrs Porter’s son has on occasions needed to follow the ambulance to the hospital which has meant that she has no way of understanding what is being said on route.

The Trust would like to thank Mrs Porter and the Interpreter for sharing her story with us to support the development of our services.  


As a Trust we understand the challenges faced by our patients with sensory impairments, there have been a number of improvements made over the last year. This story will be shared with the Clinical Leads and staff to raise awareness of the resources that are now available to them when interacting with a patient who is deaf or has a communication need.

A survey for staff in 2021 identified the need for more training to be made available regarding communicating with patients with communication needs. A training module is being developed for Evolve to support staff to learn how to communicate with people who are deaf and how to understand non-verbal communication.

A free pictural pre-hospital communication app was developed and shared with staff.

All crew ipads now have a BSL dictionary app installed, with communication booklets included on all Trust vehicles.

A new national 999 BSL App is available for patients to download, this connects by video to a BSL interpreter when calling for an ambulance. This has been shared widely through BSL networks.

Through coproduction of the Easy Read Survey, the Trust was made aware of work taking place in the Norfolk area regarding hearing loops and how these could be used in ambulances and Patient Transport Service vehicles. This has been raised with the Clinical Lead and Equality Diversity Inclusion Team.

Key Issues/ Risks

The key points to note are

  • Awareness of resources that are available and will be shared with Trust staff
  • Training module to be made available for Trust staff once this is on Evolve (elearning platform)



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