Nurse learns Sign Language to help care for prisoners with hearing impairments
1 July 2021
Giorgia Caradonna has been crowned Practice Plus Group’s latest Healthcare Hero winner for voluntarily teaching herself British Sign Language (BSL) to better communicate with deaf patients.
Giorgia was inspired to learn BSL after working closely with a deaf patient and only being able to communicate with him through writing. She said:
“I am passionate about inclusivity so it is important to me to make sure I can communicate equally with all of my patients. When one of my deaf patients began struggling with communication after the introduction of face masks due to the COVID pandemic, I immediately wanted to help. I realised his ability to lipread was taken away. After learning the patient was fluent in BSL, I went home and began to teach myself basic BSL.
“Every evening I watched YouTube tutorials. I started by learning short greetings and progressed to small phrases, and eventually longer sentences. Each time I met with the patient, I would show him what I’ve learnt that week and we would have a non-verbal conversation in BSL. I can tell by his facial expressions and smiles that he is happy I have taught myself BSL. We even have a laugh together as he corrects my signs if I get any slightly wrong. I can really see a difference in the patient’s mood and mental health since communicating through BSL.
“I’d like to thank my healthcare team for nominating me and always being supportive. I have even started teaching them BSL in the staff room during our breaks! I can’t wait to perfect my BSL with an official training course in June and carry on helping patients with hearing impairments.”
Samantha Elkins, Practice Plus Group’s Regional Director for the South, said:
“I’m extremely proud of Giorgia for giving up her personal time to teach herself BSL to improve the care of deaf patients. At Practice Plus Group, we know that communication is integral to the delivery of quality healthcare to patients. As an organisation, health literacy is a key focus of ours. Health literacy refers to the ability of individuals to gain access to, understand and use information in ways which promote and maintain good health.
“We know that marginalised groups, such as those with disabilities, are disproportionately affected by low levels of health literacy and in turn, health inequalities. Giorgia’s initiative is a great example of how we, as healthcare professionals, can be inclusive of all patients with differing levels of health literacy to improve their understanding of healthcare.”