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Tackling inequalities in care: The telephone remains key for human-centred care and support

23 May 2023
By John Hersov, ‘Am I invisible’ facilitator

A blog by the co-production group that was responsible for the recent SCIE project, ‘Tackling inequalities in care for people with learning disabilities’. This group has found the project so helpful and enjoyable to be part of, they named themselves the ‘SCIE Fliers’. Made up of a group of experienced self-advocates, their insights and experiences were pivotal to the ‘Am I invisible’ resources that were produced earlier this year. This blog gives an insight into what they faced during the pandemic and the way things can be improved now.

The SCIE Fliers have recently been talking about making telephone calls to get important information, about your health, benefits, energy supplies or travel plans.

We said that it can be very hard just to get through to where you are trying to call for the information that you need. It may take a long time before the phone is answered. Some of the staff are really nice to talk to, others not so much.

You can also find yourself on hold for even longer, which can prove very expensive for you or whoever is helping you to make the call. Trying to work out which option you require from the menu of choices you are faced with, can often mean that you forget which option you need.

Talking straight for everyone

We discussed what the organisations that we communicate with need to do to make this whole process more accessible, clear and friendly. Some of them may have a list with the names of people who are flagged in order to alert their staff that this individual has additional needs which can be helpful, although we felt that ‘talking straight for everyone’ should be in the system.

On balance, we did not feel that we should have to say that we have a learning disability in order to get a more effective service. However, one person was told after some time on the call “you should have said that at the start, Mr …”

If you have a bad experience on the phone with someone that is impatient and rude, it may put you off from accessing services that you really need. Having to go over your story again because they haven’t read the notes is also very frustrating, even more so if you have a speech impediment.

We feel that the telephone staff need further training from people with learning disabilities and autism, so that they do their jobs better for all customers, especially older and disabled people.

It should be how they treat everyone.

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