Deaf people with additional disabilities or illnesses need specialist support to help them in their daily lives. They also need people who know how to communicate with them and who can provide a continuity of care. Many Deaf people with complex needs will not benefit from working with registered British Sign Language (BSL)/English interpreters; they may prefer to work with support staff from specialist deaf services who know their personal communication abilities and needs. Specialist staff can offer more appropriate and personal support than BSL/English interpreters who work in more formal situations. There is a severe lack of accessible and appropriate care services for deaf people in the community, for example Care at Home and Housing Support services. This is especially true for deaf people with complex needs. Therefore there is a need for specific, specialised care provision to be made available so that deaf people with complex needs can have any chance of accessing an equitable service with other deaf people and their hearing peers.
Scottish Council on Deafness recommends:
1. Equality Impact Assessments1 should be carried out to ensure that the requirements of deaf people with complex needs are included in all services.
2. In order to meet the minimum Care Standards, all care staff should have access to the appropriate levels of SVQ training.
3. All care staff working with Deaf people with complex needs should be trained to a minimum of BSL Level 2 – with ongoing further training when available and appropriate.
4. Organisations providing services to deaf people with complex needs must also ensure that care staff have access to additional training in order to provide appropriate care in other specialised fields, such as autism awareness, mental health, managing challenging behaviours, first aid, monitoring and dispensing medication.
5. Staff training should also involve establishing links with agencies which work in other specialised fields, which can also benefit from the sharing of knowledge and experience.
6. There should be a recognised career structure for social workers and other care professionals working with deaf people.
7. In partnership with local authorities, health boards and specialist deaf organisations, the Scottish Government should look at the requirements of deaf people with complex needs in Scotland and make recommendations on what services should be available to make sure that these people live healthy, safe and satisfying lives.
8. When local authorities are setting rates for the personalisation agenda and self-directed support, they must take into account the cost of specialist services for deaf people with complex needs and ensure the necessary financial support is in place.
9. Public bodies involved in the procurement of services for deaf people with complex needs should involve deaf people in the planning and tendering processes. Before renewing contracts, service user feedback should be sought.2
10. The specific requirements of deaf people with additional needs must be considered in fi nancial planning by local authorities and others.
For further information about specialist support services for deaf people with complex needs, contact:
Hayfield Support Services with Deaf People Tel (voice & text): 0141 429 0335; firstname.lastname@example.org
Sense Scotland Tel (voice): 0141 429 0294; email@example.com