Press Release provided by HearFirst
Members of staff from a Manchester-based housing association are helping their Deaf and hard of hearing residents to make the right choice of home improvements thanks to a recent training course in British Sign Language (BSL).
The course has proved invaluable after four members of staff from Eastlands Homes successfully passed their BSL Level 1 exams last week.
The staff have been signing with residents who are Deaf or hard of hearing about work that will be made to their homes as part of a £110 million five-year improvement programme, which will see homes brought up to the Decent Homes Standard.
The in-house course, which was delivered by training specialists HearFirst, was organised by company bosses to improve communication between staff and residents who are deaf, deafened, deafblind or hard of hearing.
Eastlands Homes’ project officer, Sandra Harrison has been using the signs that she learnt during her course by signing with residents during the company’s choice days. The days are organised to inform residents about the improvement works that will be undertaken so they can select their fixtures and fittings such as worktops, paint colours, floor coverings and carpets to their homes.
One of the residents to benefit from Sandra’s new signing skills is David Marsden (51) who is Deaf and lives at Millwall Close in the Gorton area of Manchester. His three-bedroom home is set to receive a major refurbishment in the next five months and will benefit from a new kitchen, bathroom, windows and doors, a new roof, new heating system, full electrical re-wire and external works such as fencing and lighting.
Thanks to Sandra, he has been able to communicate to her and the contractor that will be carrying out the works, to discuss the furnishings and improvements that will be made to his home.
Speaking through Sandra by signing, he said, “I am pleased to be able to communicate with someone who can understand me and also help me to make the right choices with my new kitchen design. This has made what would have been a hard job a lot easier.”
The signing classes have not only benefitted Sandra within the workplace but also at home. She said: “I am really pleased that I have passed my BSL Level 1 exam and think it is great that Eastlands Homes invests in staff training to learn sign language.
“The improvement programme can cause disruption within our resident’s homes so it is very important that they understand the level of work that will be undertaken. The major works that will be carried out to Mr Marsden’s home means that he will need to be re-located to another property. There should be no barriers to communication, particularly with our residents who are Deaf or hard of hearing, so the training with HearFirst has been a great help.
“The signing has not only benefitted our work with residents but some of our Deaf members of staff who work within the maintenance department. Personally, I have also been able to help my five year old son who is learning the basics of sign language in school to sign, which is brilliant.”
Chief Executive, Sheila Doran said: “Equality and diversity is central to our values and this training provides us with yet another way of meeting the diverse needs of our residents.
“The four members of staff have excelled throughout the training and we are very proud of the commitment they have shown. The benefits are very clear as we can now provide a better service to customers, communication with colleagues is improved and there is the additional benefit of being able to use this skill in other settings outside of work.”
Julie Ryder, Director and Founder of HearFirst, said: “Our goal with all HearFirst courses is to provide value for money, thought provoking, fun and interesting training that motivates and inspires people to make real changes for real people.
“Staff at Eastlands Homes should be very proud of their achievements. They have brought their Equality and Diversity commitment to life. Their increased knowledge of deafness and communication skills is helping them provide a fair and equal service to their Deaf residents such as Mr Marsden.
“As Eastlands Homes continues to develop its workforce, we’re looking forward to working alongside them as specialists in the field of deafness and disability related issues.”
The other members of staff from Eastlands Homes who have successfully passed their BSL Level 1 exams include Customer Service Advisors, Robert Hall and Fran Wilson and Administration Officer, Mark Wolliscroft.