In recognition of hidden disabilities, Surrey and Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust (SASH) are now part of the Hidden Disabilities Sunflower Scheme; an initiative which provides a subtle, visual indication that somebody has a hidden disability and may require some extra, help, time or assistance during their visit to the hospital.
This week colleagues at East Surrey Hospital, run by SASH, launched the scheme to coincide with International Day of People with Disabilities (3 December 2020), the theme of which is ‘Not all Disabilities are Visible’.
The scheme provides reassurance to patients and visitors and if someone is wearing a sunflower product (for example; a lanyard or a ribbon) it will indicate to staff that they may need additional support.
Hidden disabilities don’t have physical signs and include; learning disabilities/ difficulties, mental health needs, mobility, and speech, visual or hearing impairments. They can also include asthma, COPD, and other lung conditions as well as chronic illnesses such as renal failure, diabetes, and sleep disorders when those diseases significantly impact day-to-day life.
Sunflower products are bright green in colour and decorated with a yellow sunflower design, so that it can be seen clearly from a distance, ensuring that everyone is visible when they choose to be.
Mark Preston, director of organisational development and people said: “We are committed to being a diverse and inclusive organisation and being part of the scheme gives the people we care for confidence that we recognise hidden disabilities, whilst preserving their dignity and respect.
“Patients and visitors with hidden disabilities may not be identifiable to all staff and the scheme will help us to offer a valuable method of being able to provide those with hidden disabilities the best experience and access to care.”
Paul White, CEO at Hidden Disabilities added: “We are excited to welcome Surrey and Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust to the Hidden Disabilities Sunflower lanyard scheme. By adopting the Sunflower, hospitals and surgeries within this NHS Trust will be able to offer patients and colleagues, with a hidden disability, the recognition, understanding and help they may need. The addition of SASH helps raise awareness of the Sunflower within the National Health Service and we hope to see an increasing number of NHS trusts following Surrey and Sussex’s lead and adopting the scheme in the near future.”
Michael Wilson CBE, chief executive at SASH said: “In order for us to continue delivering outstanding patient care to local people, it is important for us to recognise that everyone has individual needs. We strive to be an inclusive organisation and are proud to be part of the Sunflower Scheme.
The scheme has also been successfully introduced by a number of other NHS organisations, several major UK airports and supermarkets.