FINDING your way about a busy hospital can be a daunting task, but for those with learning difficulties it can be twice as hard.
Southend Hospital has worked with disability groups to overcome this problem by making a film, which premiered at the House of Lords.
The film, Coming to Outpatients, will help those with learning disabilities familiarise themselves with the hospital before they go in to have treatment, helping them understand what the experience will be like and reassuring those whomay be anxious.
It was shown to guests during a private viewing at an afternoon tea in Westminster hosted by Lord Brian Rix, an actor famed for his farces and a disability campaigner.
Sarah Haines, learning disabilities nurse, at the hospital worked with disability groups on the hospital’s disability committee to bring the project to fruition.
She said: “People with learning difficulties thought it would be really good to have a film about the hospital.
“They wanted to have a film about how the staff work and the environment when they visit.
“We work with the Shields Partnership, in Southend, on things we are doing in the hospital and they had the idea. We applied successfully for a grant from the Brian Rix charity and then put together a script and people with learning disabilities made the film.”
The film shows someone with learning difficulties visiting the hospital from the time they arrive in the car park.
It shows them how to get a ticket for their car and to negotiate the reception areas and main outpatient department.
The film also shows people what to expect during a consultation and includes tips on things, like bringing a book to keep them occupied. It also shows how to get and fill in a “hospital passport” which documents all an individual needs so medical staff can cater for them properly.
The film is shown at the hospital and has been screened in local day centres and at the Avro Centre and Southend Adult Education College. It is also on the hospital website It has proved so popular there are plans to make another film.
Ms Haines said: “We want to make another film about a journey to A&E.”
Fred Heddell, hospital nonexecutive director and member of the learning disabilities committee who attended the screening, said: “The day was a great success. At Southend Hospital, we take the care of patients with learning disabilities seriously.”
Other guests who attended the premiere, included local MPs David Amess and James Duddridge. View the film on the hospital’s website southend.nhs.uk/for-patientsvisitors/ learning-disabilities The committee hopes to make the film accessible to support groups and charities