The Communication You Can't Hear ~ Elective Placement Experiences

I am incredibly lucky that my university offers us the chance to pick one four week placement out of all the placements we have during our three years training. There were just few restrictions on where we could and couldn't go, some of my friends have been to gorgeous places like Thailand and Sri Lanka.



I was so grateful that I was able to get a placement at the Society for Deaf People in my local area and it was AMAZING!! I'm sure if you are a medical student or working in the healthcare or just any other person you know that we are becoming an ever ageing population with people living longer than they used to. Due to that more and more people are suffering with some form of hearing loss. I have begun encountering increasing numbers of patients that suffer from a form of hearing loss as being able to communicate with them as effectively as I would with a hearing patient is a vital part of my nursing care.

So I decided for my 4 weeks I would spend it with the society who helped deaf people with everyday things, such as duty (where people could have letters translated into sign language, have interpreters booked, appointments booked etc). I also got the chance to go on home visits which allowed me a chance to communicate with the individuals in a more private setting and spoke to some clients about the issues they faced in just daily living when some require daily nursing care, this was daily nursing care with no sign language. It also gave me the chance to talk to them about the difficulties they face in healthcare settings not only for themselves but also when having to take their children into hospital or to appointments for things such as school and issues around it.

Although I'm not in any way fluent in sign language, nor do I have any of the NVQ's in sign language I can sign some basic signs and finger spell as well. When each person was asked permission for me to sit in to gain an understanding, each person was incredibly supportive and appreciative that I had taken the time to begin to learn and some were even teaching me phrases or slowing down the speed they signed which if you think some people talked fast, wait till you see someone sign fast, I could barely keep up!



Whilst there I also got the chance every Thursday to join in on the deaf bingo that they organised weekly for the hard of hearing, deaf blind and deaf people. It was such a fun time and it gave me an understanding that it's not just deaf and hearing, there are variations. I also got the chance to learn how to use the deaf blind alphabet to communicate. The lovely man that runs the deaf bingo kindly gave me the book pictured above from when he was learning sign language and it was incredibly kind and incredibly helpful!

I would definitely recommend if you get the chance to do an elective placement to go outside the hospital, acute settings and go to the charities, go to the societies. It's such an amazing, rewarding experience and they are so thankful to have you there as they know that it's helping to improve care one nurse at a time! It has inspired me to want to complete my NVQ's in British Sign Language.

Have you been on an elective placement? If so, where have you been?


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