Accessibility at Whittington Hospital

Centre 404 has been delighted to take part in creating new accessible information for autistic patients at our local Whittington Hospital. Our service user-led Have Your Say Group contributed to improving accessibility and resources alongside Ambitious About Autism, Mencap Islington Me Time and The Elfrida Society.

We are pleased to share the full press release from Ambitious About Autism below:

Ambitious about Autism helps create new accessible information for patients at North London hospital

Ambitious about Autism has supported three north London patient groups to create new resources aimed at improving the experience of autistic patients and those with learning disabilities at Whittington Health NHS Trust.

The year-long project saw the charity work with three Islington-based patient engagement groups; Mencap Islington Me Time, The Elfrida Society and Centre 404.

Together they examined the challenges that autistic patients and those with learning disabilities face when visiting hospital for appointments or in emergencies.

Rory Sheridan, Digital Participation Assistant at Ambitious about Autism, said: “Patients told us that they found some of the unfamiliar, medical language used during appointments difficult to understand, they also said they needed enough time to process information during appointments and also wanted to feel that health professionals understood their needs.”

Martin, a member of one of the patient groups, said: “I want healthcare staff to know who I am. I’ve had an appointment cancelled nine times, healthcare staff tried to be honest with me. I hope this project will change things for the better.”

Working collaboratively with the patient groups, Ambitious about Autism has created a suite of new resources for patients and staff at Whittington Health to improve access to healthcare. These include easy-read guides on what happens when you visit the Emergency Department or go for a routine operation, information on how to make a complaint or compliment and an easy read form that medical staff can fill in and give to the patient when they leave to explain the treatment they’ve received.

There are also resources for healthcare staff to help them improve their understanding of autism and the different types of learning disabilities, to better interact with patients visits and appointments.

Launched during Learning Disabilities Week (June 20-26) these new resources will be available on Whittington Health’s website and will be distributed within the hospital and their community sites.

Varda Lassman, Islington Borough and Nurses Lead for Adult Community Health Services at Whittington Health NHS Trust said:

“Working on this project, together with Ambitious about Autism, has been a fantastic opportunity to improve the experience of accessing healthcare for people with a learning disability. By working together and really listening to people, we have a better understanding of what we were not getting right — we can now change that and ensure everyone has a good experience when they come to our hospital or community sites.”

Rory from Ambitious about Autism, added: “Autistic people and those with learning disabilities face many challenges accessing healthcare which can lead to serious health risks.

“It’s been great to work alongside patients to understand the problems they face and come up with solutions.

“We’ve been working with Whittington Health for several years on projects aimed at improving the experience of autistic patients and we’re very grateful for their commitment to increasing understanding and making positive change for autistic people.”

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