- Posted Tuesday July 5, 2016
The benefits that can be gained from the arrival of the Accessible Information Standard are universal, despite its status as an NHS England initiative.
By 31 July all GP practices in England will need to conform to the standard, but it’s a worthwhile practice that could benefit those in other countries too, aiding both communication and engagement. To break the standard down to its core, its introduction means organisations must ensure any information that disabled patients and their carers receive will be in a format they can understand, and that they have appropriate support to help them communicate with the practice.
Putting the standard into practice could involve any number of changes to make communications more accessible, including using large print, braille or easy-read documents. Practices should work proactively to identify which of their patients require information in alternative formats and make sure those needs are recorded and met in all cases.
Practice Manager and FPM Associate Jeffrey Krell shared his thoughts on the introduction of the standard: “From a practice perspective, I can say that I did not know about this standard until FPM asked me to comment and I wonder how many other managers are aware of it. However, having read the standards I would be surprised if most practices were not already compliant and had not been for many years as a matter of good practice and everyday care.
“There are so many things that practices already do to facilitate differing patient needs, from producing leaflets in large print to being able to provide interpreters, as well as making special arrangements for patients with other learning disabilities and needs.”
The aim of making information more accessible to people with specialist needs is to make life easier for everyone, meaning less potential confusion and happier patients. It’s easy to see why this is being implemented, and how practices outside of NHS England could benefit from it too – they may even already have something similar in place.
Jeffrey continues: “It is in everyone’s interest that we do document the arrangements in a way that enables the surgery to be immediately aware of the current position and needs of patients.
"I normally find that when faced with patients needing this extra assistance they already know of ways for the practice to assist them, so solutions can be found quickly.”
FPM members can learn more about the Accessible Information Standard, including how to apply it and what falls outside its scope, by accessing the Communication Standards document in our Policies and Procedures Library.