School pupils showed NHS staff what it’s like to have additional needs during an enlightening session at Blackpool Victoria Hospital.
The pupils from Highfurlong School in Blackpool helped staff to appreciate difficulties faced by people with limited sight and mobility as well as other conditions.
Members of frontline staff including porters and receptionists were blindfolded or asked to wear sight-limiting glasses and movement-restrictive garments. They were then encouraged to undertake tasks such as threading a needle, searching for items in a bag, reading, doing a jigsaw, completing a form and travelling around the hospital.
Those who took part said they felt disorientated and frustrated and they commented on how much trust they had to put in the staff members who were supporting them. All were reliant on guidance with the tasks and said the experience made them think again about what it could feel like to have additional needs at the hospital.
The session at the hospital on Monday, February 6, was organised by Rebecca Addey, Paediatric Patient Experience Officer for Blackpool Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, to highlight how staff can make people with additional needs feel welcome and safe.
The pupils said they had enjoyed the one-hour session because they could assert their independence and share their knowledge.
Joanne Ashton, Assistant Head Teacher at Highfurlong School, said: “We’re delighted that the hospital staff have come along to take part in this session.
“We’re raising awareness of what it means to have additional needs. In particular, we’re focusing on what it’s like for 14 to 19 year-olds who are getting to the stage where they want to be able to go to an appointment without having to have someone speaking on their behalf.”
Joanne said every young person was different and the main thing that the pupils were asking for was to be treated as individuals.
She explained: “I think they have felt very important today.
“They are in a position of showing people something and being in control.
“This empowers them as they can explain how they would like to be spoken to and how they would like to be treated.
“Through doing this type of work they have a voice and can change things.”
Rebecca Addey said: “The pupils’ session put staff in their shoes and demonstrated real difficulties that some of our patients face.
“Receptionists and porters are often the first people that patients will meet when they come to the hospital; they can have a huge impact on their experience.
“It is important that we all recognise when people who use our services need additional time and support to help them access, understand and be involved in their care.
“This is especially significant for young people as they get older and move into adult services. With the right support they can be empowered to be as independent as possible. We look forward to doing future work with Highfurlong pupils.”
For all media enquiries please contact Ingrid Kent, Communications and Digital Media Officer, on 01253 95 68 75 or Ingrid.Kent@bfwhospitals.nhs.uk