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Accessible Information Standard For NHS And Adult Care: A Guide

George Griffiths

23 October 2020

Accessible Information Standard For NHS And Adult Care: A Guide

George Griffiths

23 October 2020

The Accessible Information Standard is an important piece of legislation that above all promotes equality of access to information.

Introduced by the government in 2016, it ensures that people with a disability or sensory loss are given all information in a way they can easily understand. 

The NHS and adult social care services are now bound by law to comply with the Accessible Information Standard. 

To find out more about the aim of the Accessible Information Standard policy and how it may affect you, take a look at our guide. 

What is the Accessible Information Standard?

The key aim of the Accessible Information policy is to ensure ease of communication between people with a disability or sensory loss and health and social care services. 

Anyone with a disability or sensory loss must be provided information in a way they can easily read or understand. 

For the individual, it means a safer, smoother experience and a better standard of services provided. 

For the NHS and adult care services, it means they will better be able to meet the communication needs of the people who rely on them. 

The Accessible Information Standard took two years to develop and was overseen by NHS England in partnership with the Health and Social Care Information Centre. A range of charities also supported the policy, including RNIB, Action on Hearing Loss, Sense and CHANGE

Who must follow the Accessible Information Standard?

The Accessible Information Standard covers a wider range of services. The NHS and anyone who provides adult social care is bound by the Accessible Information Standard. 

This includes doctors, hospitals, pharmacies, dentists and social workers. 

Websites are not covered by the Accessible Information Standard and exceptions apply to services when no one using the service is publicly funded.

However, services that do not need to follow the Accessible Information policy must still make reasonable adjustments under the Equality Act 2010 and may wish to use a similar approach when meeting people’s information needs. 

How does the Accessible Information Standard work?

There are five steps the NHS and those providing adult social care must take in order to ensure they comply with the policy. 

Below you will find a breakdown of the things adult social care services should be doing to improve communication:

  • Find out the communication and information needs of each individual 
  • Make sure these communication and information needs are clearly recorded
  • Highlight or ‘flag’ these needs within the individual’s record so staff can immediately see what is required
  • Share communication and information needs whenever required (and with prior permission of the individual), particularly when referring a person to a different service 
  • Find ways to support each individual by providing information tailored to their communication needs 

What might accessible information look like?

Depending on the individual’s needs, accessible information may be presented in a variety of ways.

For example, some people may benefit from receiving written information via email, text message or Text Relay

To make this easier, the information could also be provided as audio, braille, easy read or in large print. 

In certain circumstances, an individual may benefit from the help of a communication professional. An example of this would be a British Sign Language interpreter. 

Services are also required to provide help with lip-reading or access to hearing aids.

How will the Accessible Information Standard be assessed during a CQC inspection?

The Care Quality Commission carries out regular inspections to ensure the correct level of care is being offered by health and social care providers in England. 

One of the things they will check is that adult social care providers are complying with the guidelines. 

During inspection, the CQC will make sure people’s needs have been identified, recorded, flagged, shared and met in a satisfactory manner. 

Wherever possible, inspectors will review the assessment and care plan of at least one individual who is affected by the Accessible Information Standard. 

In addition to this inspection, the CQC will also ask service providers how they are meeting the Accessible Information requirements through annual Provider Information Requests/Collections. 

Accessible Information Standard: A Summary

The NHS and anyone who provides adult social care must make sure they are meeting the Accessible Information Standard policy. 

All health and social care workers must ask people what communication support they require. Once they have this information, it must be recorded and flagged so that staff are able to access it effectively. 

Should a person be referred, they must be asked if information about their communication needs can be shared and should they consent, it must be passed along to the relevant service. 

Ultimately, the NHS and all adult social care providers must make sure they act on the information they receive to provide accessible information to each individual who requires it. 

How can uRoster help?

uRoster is working alongside care providers and their partners to produce a digital home care management system, launching in 2021, that offers ways to record and deliver person-centred care. 

Real-time alerts keep staff informed and up to date, which could include important information about a person’s accessible information needs. 

Details are stored on The Cloud, helping staff quickly access records and information they need to help an individual effectively. 

Voice recording is provided for service users to share invaluable feedback, which can highlight any improvements that may be needed to better meet the Accessible Information Standard. 

Meanwhile, an extensive reporting suite helps prepare for CQC inspections, which will always check whether the accessible information guidelines are being met. 

To find out how uRoster can support adult home care services in meeting the Accessible Information Standard, get in touch today.

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