Deaf inclusion champion wins diversity award

10 May 2016
St Andrew’s Healthcare Deaf Communication Development Manager, Shirley Farthing, has won the Diversity Champion Award – Public, at last night’s Excellence in Diversity Awards (EiDA) in Leeds.

Ms Farthing has been instrumental in translating English and teaching British Sign Language (BSL), supporting both patients and staff with their communication needs. 

The charity’s Equality and Human Rights Lead, Nicola Lintott, said Shirley has been at the centre of a campaign to help Deaf and hard of hearing people feel included and part of the St Andrew’s community.

“Deafness can be very isolating, without the additional challenges created by mental health illnesses. In fact, people who are Deaf are more likely to have a mental health illness than those in the hearing population. They are also sadly over represented in secure hospitals.

“Shirley has played an important role in improving patients’ independence, helping to reduce barriers which might otherwise slow down recovery and prolong the time spent in hospital, away from family and friends.

“Driven with incredible knowledge and awareness of the needs of Deaf and hard of hearing people, Shirley has helped to develop nationally recognised standards for the treatment of Deaf people in medium secure care, whilst building a supportive and inclusive Deaf culture at St Andrew’s.

Ms Lintott said Shirley played a central role in our specialist Deaf ward - where all staff are trained in Deaf awareness and BSL, and one third of the nursing team are Deaf themselves.

“By treating English as a second language, Shirley has helped to break down many of the communication barriers and feelings of social exclusion that are known to fuel the high prevalence of mental health illnesses among Deaf people.

“Mindful that Deafness can make reading and understanding English quite challenging or even impossible, Shirley is continually translating documents into printed BSL to allow patients to engage with their care plans.

“This has had a great impact on the rest of the charity – especially in developing simple care plans, creating user-friendly ways to welcome patients, supporting recruitment of D/deaf staff, and supporting a broader culture of inclusion.

“Thanks to Shirley and the inspiring team she leads, we are creating a Deaf friendly environment for both patients and staff.”