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The accessible information standard – a checklist for GP practices

A checklist to help practices ensure they are meeting the accessible information standard.

A deaf man using sign language
(Photo: Igor Alecsander/Getty Images)

All publicly funded and NHS services must adhere to the Accessible Information Standard (AIS). This applies to patients and carers who have information or communication needs because of a disability, impairment or sensory loss.

It can also be used to support people who have aphasia, autism or a mental health condition which affects their ability to communicate

Five steps of AIS

Identify: How do you assess for disability related information or communication needs and how do you plan to meet those needs?

Record: How are identified needs recorded in the patient record?  What systems are in place as part of the assessment and care planning process?

Flag: How do you highlight or flag people’s information and communication needs in their records? How are staff quickly and easily aware of these needs and know how to meet those needs?

Share: How do you share a patient’s information and communication needs with other health and social care services where you have consent?

Meet: How do you make sure your practice meets people’s needs? How do you make sure that people receive information which they can access and understand? How do you arrange communication support if people need it?

Checklist

Here is a suggested checklist of actions you could take to ensure you are meeting the standard.

Identify

Run a search for codes which may indicated a communication need such as:

  • Registered blind or partially sighted
  • Hearing loss
  • Hearing aid user
  • Registered deaf
  • Autistic spectrum disorder
  • Learning disability
  • Aphasia

Ensure your registration form is easy to read and has a question about additional communication needs.

Consider adding a question at the bottom of your standard letters to ask patients to let you know if they have communication needs.

Record and flag

You have a system to code additional needs and flag these on the clinical system.

All staff understand how to record and update information about additional communication needs.

Additional needs are assessed and updated as part of routine health checks and care planning.

Share

Patients with additional communication needs are asked whether they would like their additional needs recorded on their summary care record. This will ensure that this is flagged when they are seen in other NHS organisations.

All referrals have additional communication needs highlighted.

Meet

All staff have received AIS training.

Ensure all staff understand how to record additional needs in the records.  The data recorded must be sufficiently clear so that needs can be met.  For example, ‘Mr Smith is deaf’, does not enable appropriate adjustments to be made or arrangements to be put in place so that the practice can communicate effectively with Mr Smith. Whereas, ‘Mr Smith uses a hearing aid and lip reads’ or ‘Mr Smith needs a British Sign Language Interpreter’ or ‘Mr Smith needs information sent in Arial size 16’ would meet the requirements of the standard.

Promote Patient Online and the NHS App as patients may find it easier to communicate using digital means.

The practice has a process in place for booking British Sign Language and interpreters and lipspeakers when needed.

The practice has a hearing loop and staff know how to use it.

Engage with your PPG and local voluntary groups who may have access to useful resources to support patients with additional communication needs

During CQC inspections, inspectors will look at how the practice meets the five steps above by talking to staff and patients. Inspections may also review the assessment and care of a patient who is affected by AIS.

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