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Improving communication access the focus at Southern DHB

Friday 24 November 2017

Improving communication access the focus at Southern DHB next week

Dunedin Southern DHB Speech Language Therapy staff are next week banding together to create a more accessible health service for all our patients and their whānau.

The Giving Voice Aotearoa Week of Action is running between 27 Nov and 1 Dec in Dunedin, and the focus of this week is to raise awareness of communication disorders, and make our community and services more accessible for those who have them.

Southern DHB Speech Language Therapist, Warren Cossou, who is also one of the Dunedin champions of the Giving Voice Aotearoa campaign says, “Communication difficulties are often an invisible disability, but can have a profound impact on a person’s healthcare experience”

“Communication breakdown is behind more than 80% of complaints and errors in the healthcare system. Language, speech, voice and cognitive impairments can mean increased difficulties communicating healthcare needs. This can compromise care and put patients at risk.”

Speech-language therapists across the Southern DHB are this week putting the spotlight on what all staff can do to improve communication access.

There will be interactive displays set up at both Wakari and Dunedin Hospital foyers with information on how to improve the experiences of people with communication difficulties. As well as advice and tips, there will be checklists for staff to complete to evaluate the communication accessibility of their own workplaces. There will also be information posted on the staff intranet and slides on the TV screens in the Dunedin Hospital foyer.

“It is hoped these tools will help staff to feel more confident in communicating with people with diverse communication abilities,” says Mr Cossou.

The Week of Action coincides with the Disability Matters Conference, which will be held at the University of Otago 26-29 of November.

Did you know?

Communication difficulties affect 1 in 10 people worldwide.
Communication is not just talking, it is processing spoken and written language, reading and following signs.
128,000 people in NZ have a disability related to speaking
As many as 25% to 30% of people who have a stroke will acquire aphasia
Approximately 67% of people admitted to hospital with stroke will have a communication impairment, including motor speech disorders (dysarthria and apraxia of speech), language disorders (aphasia) and cognitive communication disorders (National Stroke Foundation, 2009)
Language and cognitive impairment have been found to be highly associated with difficulty communicating healthcare needs. The ability to communicate with healthcare staff is essential if patients are to receive adequate, appropriate and timely healthcare


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