‘We are normal people with disabilities and are not classed as labels’ - learning disability advocates meet with ambulance trust staff

PUBLISHED: 18:18 27 April 2017 | UPDATED: 18:22 27 April 2017

Members of Opening Doors visit EEAST. Photo: EEAST

Members of Opening Doors visit EEAST. Photo: EEAST


“Labels are for jars and luggage” - that was the message from members of a Norwich organisation who visited the region’s ambulance trust, to talk about the challenges they face when receiving emergency treatment.

Members of Opening Doors talking to EEAST staff in Norwich. Photo: EEASTMembers of Opening Doors talking to EEAST staff in Norwich. Photo: EEAST

Members of Opening Doors, a Norwich-based charity for people with learning disabilities, met with student paramedics and associate ambulance practitioners from the East of England Ambulance Service NHS Trust (EEAST) to talk to them about their experiences of the health service and offered advice about how they like to be treated.

Four members of the user-led organisation visited the trust’s training base earlier this month and taught staff how to sign ‘hello my name is’ as part of the get the nation signing campaign.

The group were also given a tour of the emergency operations centre and were shown around an ambulance as part of the visit organised by the Trust’s Patient and Public Involvement team.

Ian Hubbard, advocacy advisor for Opening Doors, said the group were talking to as many health professionals as possible including pharmacists, hospital nurses, midwives and people who work in social care.

He said: “It is about speaking up and having the confidence to stand up in front of people.

“It is about gaining that confidence when an ambulance comes along and from the other side people remember the training and put it into place.”

Oliver Marshall, advocate at Opening Doors, added: “We had to explain we are normal people with disabilities and are not classed as labels.

“We said it would be good for them to know more about the patients disability before they pick them up and what medication they take.

“When they picked me up as a patient they treated me as a normal person which was very good and they were quick.

“I needed help when a speeding car clipped my foot. I went flying and I was unconscious for two hours and woke up in hospital.

“The paramedics treated me very well.”

Chris Corbett, one of EEAST’s education and training officers, said: “It was great to welcome Opening Doors who gave a really informative talk.

“It was really helpful to see their point of view and what we can do to improve the care they receive from us.”

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