Southfields Team Leads Veterinary Industry With Deaf Awareness Work
A leading Essex referral vet centre has introduced a raft of measures to support its deaf clients and combat the adverse effects of face coverings.
Southfields Veterinary Specialists, in Laindon, has acted swiftly to train team members in sign language and introduce see-through face masks in a bid to ensure clients who are deaf or have hearing issues do not suffer by the introduction of face masks.
Leading deaf charities have warned the growing use of face coverings, which are compulsory in hospitals and vet practices due to the Coronavirus pandemic and will be mandatory in all shops from July 24, is causing communication difficulties among the 12 million people in the UK who are deaf or have some form of hearing loss.
Daniel Hogan, hospital director at Southfields, which is part of Linnaeus, said the referral centre acted swiftly as part of its adaption to Covid-19, which has seen it support clients and continue to treat urgent and emergency cases throughout the lockdown.
Daniel said: “We adapted to the Coronavirus pandemic very quickly and efficiently across the hospital and have been able to offer to support to all of our clients and patients.
“With the easing of restrictions, we are now able to welcome more clients to the hospital, however, it is clear those with hearing issues can be really affected by the use of face coverings, as they rely heavily on visual clues for effective communication.
“I am actually unilateral deaf myself, so am already a British Sign Language level three signer and I am providing basic training to members of our team.”
Another element of Southfields’ drive to support the D/deaf community is the introduction of transparent face coverings for team members, which will enable lip reading.
Daniel said: “We’re aware facial expressions and lip reading are pivotal to the way we communicate, especially in what can be an emotive time for our clients as their beloved pets are given specialist medical treatment.
“We’ve brought in a range of see-through face coverings, so our clients can not only communicate via signing but also see our team members’ faces clearly as we discuss important elements of their pets’ care and treatment.”
Southfields, which launched video consultations for clients within a matter of days following the lockdown, has also introduced socially-distanced appointments for people with hearing issues.
Daniel said: “Video calls have been a great help to us in continuing to provide vital assessments and treatment of patients throughout lockdown but we want to make things as easy as possible for our clients with hearing issues, so we’re able to offer them appointments within the hospital and eliminate any possible challenges video calls might present.”
Southfields provides specialist services in anaesthesia and analgesia, cardiology, dermatology, diagnostic imaging, internal medicine, neurology and neuro-surgery, oncology, orthopaedics, radiation and soft tissue surgery.
For more information about Southfields, visit www.southfields.co.uk or search for Southfields Veterinary Specialists on social media.
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