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Changing Staff Practices to improve Accessibility

It is important that staff are fully aware of issues surrounding disability discrimination and the legal obligations of the practice. To improve accessibility for disabled patients, some simple measures can be taken by staff.

Encourage staff to:

  • be aware that disabilities take a variety of forms and are not always visible
  • face patients directly and, where possible, avoid covering their mouth when speaking to patients (to facilitate lip-reading by patients)
  • ensure the lighting does not put them in shade when speaking to patients
  • provide clear and simple communications, particularly for those patients with communication support needs
  • ask the patient or, where appropriate, the person accompanying the patient if they understand the information given to them, and be prepared to use other forms of communication for those with communication difficulties (e.g. write things down if patients have hearing difficulties)
  • move from behind the reception desk if the desk is not at a level that is comfortable for wheelchair users to see staff or to lean on the desk
  • offer assistance to patients, where necessary, when patients are negotiating steps to the entrance or within the dental practice, or have difficulty moving around the practice, but not to assume that all disabled patients will want assistance. NB: ensure staff are covered by public liability insurance
  • familiarise themselves with the practice’s emergency evacuation procedures and how disabled patients are helped from the premises
  • avoid cluttering the practice with obstacles such as bags or boxes
  • treat all patients with dignity and respect