This is a taster of the work we have undertaken in March and April 2020 during the pandemic.
Summary of our Work
Our British Sign Language customers continue to require written information to be translated into British Sign Language. As a result they are kept up to date with relevant government guidance. Our Communication Support Workers have produced BSL clips and sent these to customers regarding: Stay at home advice; MOT advice; The Prime Minister’s letter; Understanding furlough; Increase to contact less card payments; School meal voucher scheme; Advice on face coverings.
We have created and distributed two easy read posters for our deaf customers with minimal language. Thereby providing visual Stay at home advice and How to shop using social distancing. We sourced, printed and distributed the governments’ “Stay Alert” poster.
Some of our customers who have sight loss or combined sight and hearing loss have been able to use our audio descriptive shopping service. Allowing them to maintain their mental map of the shop as well as remain in control as to what they want to buy. Consequently this allows customers to know what is going on in the real world e.g.: queuing, power cuts or a lack of baking items.
We have supported our visually impaired customers in accessing information about their medication. This includes labelling up generic boxes in large print. We have read aloud government guidance on PPE to customers. As a result this has alleviated concerns of those receiving domiciliary care.
We have supported customers in undertaking crosswords and quizzes over the telephone. Providing them with reminiscence opportunities leading up to VE day. As well as routine checks on their health and wellbeing. Our specialist support workers have provided relayed telephone calls for customers to housing departments to manage rent increase letters, to GP’s for repeat prescriptions and to the family fund to secure refunds on holidays.
We have supported our customers in accessing information written online. Our workers have been asked to research a number of topics including house prices, opera music, CB radios, seated exercises and then relayed this information back to the customer over the telephone.
We have enabled customers to continue with their parenting duties via email and WhatsApp. And supported customers create PowerPoint presentations for college work via zoom. We have taught customers how to use smart phone video technology; provided them with information on how to use NGT facilities on their phones and provided information on “Interpreter Now” website. So enabling deaf customers to have remote access to Interpreters during GP consultations.
We have worked collaboratively with a number of agencies including home care organizations, food hubs, wardens at residential settings, mental health teams. Contacting these agencies when we are concerned about a possible COVID-19 case. Most importantly, none of our customers so far have tested or reported COVID-19 symptoms.
“Really enjoyed the shopping over the phone as I’m able to participate in making choices” (RBWM resident)
“Your work is vital and its comforting to have support from an organization and a worker I trust” (RBWM resident)
“Absolutely life–saving” (Wokingham resident)
“Thank you so much for helping” (Bracknell resident)
“[name of worker] show help me to video call you, me happy” (Reading resident)
We are researching how to resume the guiding service that is a part of our roles. The job involves being within 2 metres of our customers. As such we are looking at the use of face visors as a protective measure. A full and comprehensive risk assessment will take place in the next few weeks.
We are also trialing wearing the face visor for when we visit 2 BSL customers who are receiving home visits due to the lack of technology. We are unable to use face coverings with this customer group as they need to see the whole face in order to receive clear communication.
We hope you are all remaining safe and well!