Working with deaf patients

Part of being a healthcare professional is acknowledging your patients’ needs and making them feel included in the conversation about their care. 

Sadly, those who are deaf or live with some form of hearing impairment often find themselves excluded from the conversation in healthcare settings due to a lack of deaf awareness amongst staff. 

To celebrate Deaf Awareness Week, this blog will discuss how healthcare workers can better support deaf patients and make sure they receive fair treatment.  

Defining deafness 

Deafness can be defined as a hearing impairment that is severe enough to prevent the individual from hearing sounds or interpreting linguistic information without external aid. This can also make it challenging for the affected individual to communicate, which can lead to social withdrawal and often dejection. 

This is why, especially in a healthcare setting, it is important that we raise awareness of the day-to-day challenges deaf people face and how we can create an effective support system.

How can I improve my communication with deaf people? 

  • Be clear but don’t shout. 
  • Speak at a steady pace that is easy to follow.
  • Try not to cover your lips while you speak.
  • Avoid mumbling or overexaggerating your words. 
  • Mitigate background noise as much as possible. 
  • Face the person you are speaking to and make eye contact. 
  • Avoid jargon.

How can I better support my deaf patients? 

Ask away 

Deafness has different implications for everyone, which means not all deaf people you encounter will have the same preferred method of communication. Try and find out how your patient would like to communicate and go from there. This may involve seeking the support of a qualified interpreter. Remember, never make assumptions about your patients’ abilities – it’s always better to ask!

Educate yourself

Attend deaf awareness training where possible – or if this is not available at your place of work then raise the matter with your line manager and find out if it is something they could implement. Some independent research wouldn’t go amiss either e.g. finding out more about the different types of deafness and where you can make life easier through making adjustments as a healthcare provider. 

If you’re looking for a change of role or know others who are, please get in touch on 0203 929 4017! Amaré Health has a number of locum positions across the UK within the NHS and private sector.