In 2016NHS England introduced the Accessible Information Standard which is a legal requirement for all providers of NHS and adult social care services in England which includes NHS GOS contractors.
The purpose of the standard is to ensure that people who have communication needs because of a disability or sensory loss receive information in a suitable format, ideally of their choice.
Since 01 April 2016 you should, as a matter or normal routine practice, be asking patients about their communication needs they may have and ensure that you record that information on their notes. You need to have been following the standard in full since 31 July 2016.
As part of the Accessible Information Standard you must do 5 things. These are:
- Ask: as a matter of routine you must enquire if a new or returning patient has any information or communication support needs relating to a disability, sensory loss or other impairment.
- Record: clearly and consistently record those needs in the patient’s records.
- Alert/Flag: the record needs must be ‘highly visible’ – so that it can be seen and acted upon whenever the patient’s records is accessed.
- Share: you should include any information about a patient’s information and communication needs at referral, discharge and handover, following your existing data sharing processes.
- Act: make reasonable adjustments to ensure that people receive information in a format they can understand.
More information on the Accessible Information Standard
More information on the Accessible Information Standard can be found on the NHS England website www.england.nhs.uk/accessibleinfo
Charities including Action on Hearing Loss, CHANGE, Sense and the Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB) also have information on their websites.
The ‘Information Standards Notice’, which tells organisations how and why they must follow the standard, can be accessed via the Health and Social Care Information Centre website at www.hscic.gov.uk/isce/publication/scci1605
The Optical Confederation have also put together a couple of fact sheets that can be accessed by clicking the link http://www.opticalconfederation.org.uk/resources/guidance