Accessible Information Standard
Starting from August 1, 2016, it became mandatory for all institutions offering NHS care and/or publicly-funded adult social care to adhere to the Accessible Information Standard.
This Standard establishes a clear and uniform method for recognising, documenting, highlighting, exchanging, and fulfilling the information and communication requirements of individuals with disabilities, impairments, or sensory limitations, as well as their caregivers and parents.
The Standard outlines specific guidelines for organisations under the Accessible Information Standard.
What’s included in the Accessible Information Standard?
- Organisations must inquire about individuals' information and their communication needs, and actively seek ways to address and fulfill those needs
- Clear and standardised documentation of these needs must be maintained
- Individuals' files or notes should be clearly marked or flagged to indicate their information and communication requirements, as well as the methods employed to meet those needs
- With appropriate consent or authorisation, information regarding individuals' information and communication needs should be shared with other providers of NHS and adult social care
- Organisations are responsible for ensuring that individuals receive information that is accessible and comprehensible to them. If necessary, communication support should be provided to facilitate understanding
What is encompassed within the Standard?
The Standard ensures that individuals with disabilities, impairments, or sensory loss, along with their carers and parents, are afforded the following rights:
- They should have the ability to contact services and be contacted by them through accessible means, such as email or text messages
- Information and correspondence should be provided in formats that they can easily read and comprehend, such as audio recordings, braille, easy-to-read materials, or large print
- If necessary, they should receive assistance from communication professionals during appointments, such as British Sign Language interpreters, to facilitate effective conversation
- Health and care staff and organisations should provide support to facilitate communication, allowing individuals to lip-read or use hearing aids
How do you improve your compliance with the Accessible Information Standard?
When completing the Provider Information Return (PIR), you might find it difficult to use 500 words to explain your compliance. Here are some tips that can help you go above and beyond and improve your rating:
Tips to help care providers:
Make a member of your staff an “Accessibility Champion”. Provide them with extra training about accessibility of information, local challenges and best practice. The champion can then support you to improve your service by:
- Reporting to you about how your service supports people who have communication needs
- Identifying broader trends in people’s experiences of accessing information from your service
- Responding to feedback and making the appropriate changes to your service
Other actions to help you comply with the standard include:
- Provide ongoing training to all staff ensuring that they are aware of their duty in regards to making information accessible or their duty to report when a client’s communication needs change
- Ensure that your clients can easily update you with their communication needs by reviewing their needs at every opportunity
- Use your annual survey to get feedback about their communication needs and if they feel that the service is currently meeting them
- Keep a list of organisations that can support people with communication needs so that you can easily contact them if a communication need is identified
- Ensure that people’s communication needs are part of their care records and your staff can easily access
- Ensure you have a consent form in place that allows you to share information with relevant organisations about your client’s communication needs
NHS resources for providers about meeting the Accessible Information Standard
Healthwatch Recommendations for Adult Social Care Providers
Information Card for client’s with Communication Needs
UK Association for Accessible Formats - the industry association that sets standards and promotes best practice for accessible documents in the UK
Change - 5 Steps of the Accessible Information Standard
Care Begins at Home is a Facebook group for providers and people caring for a loved one. The group contains information about best practices, templates and improvement plans.