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Beyond Deaf Awareness Week, how Care Group supports Deaf residents access to healthcare

The Care Group’s Tower Hamlets Advocacy and Interpreting Service recently announced the new British Sign Language interpreting service coming to every Tower Hamlets General Practice this month. But how does it work?

Posted on: 14 May 2024

Care Group staff attended the Deaf Awareness Week event ran by DeafPlus at a local community centre in Tower Hamlets. Local representatives from health and care organisations were able to engage in a range of activities including being taught some basic British Sign Language (BSL) and a myth-busting Q&A game to debunk misconceptions about the deaf community. 

The event was the perfect platform for our Tower Hamlets Advocacy and Interpreting service (THAIS) to announce our new on-demand BSL interpreting service, provided by Sign Live, which will be accessible for every GP practice and community health service we manage at the Care Group from Monday 13 May 2024, this includes out-of-hours to cover emergencies. 

The on-demand BSL interpreting service will provide a facility for a deaf patient to access their GP practices and other Primary Care providers through a Sign Live BSL interpreter via video link or visual relay service (VRS) when a deaf patient walks through the GP doors or deems it necessary to contact their doctor from home urgently. 

This new approach is a marked improvement on the current system, which sees deaf patients having to wait more than three days for a BSL interpreter to be booked for ad hoc medical appointments. The Care Group aims to ensure equity of access to healthcare for all our patients and improving the quality and efficiency of our Advocacy and Interpreting service.

Patients can access the service by pressing their GP practice’s number from the Sign Live App directory on their phone. The call will be directly connected to a Sign Live BSL Interpreter, who will then link the deaf patient to the GP or any other community health service under the Care Group selected. 

This new service has been commissioned for the purpose of better supporting the ad-hoc BSL interpreting needs of the community and is not designed for advanced bookings. If any advanced booking is required, the GP or community health service will continue to book through our scheduling system - Interpreter Intelligence, as usual. 

To learn more about our advocacy and interpreting team, visit their page here