Creating Disability Friendly Healthcare Environments

28 November 2023

Patient Safety Officer Amanda Cook and Quality ans Safety Manager Katherine Jackman
Patient Safety Officer Amanda Cook and Quality and Safety Manager Katherine Jackman

Patient Safety Officer Amanda Cook from The Wesley Hospital’s Quality and Safety Team, has embarked on a research project designed to improve the healthcare experience of patients living with a disability.

The goal of her research is a cause close to her heart as Amanda herself, along with her two sons, live with Autism, and her lived experience fuels her passion to improve the lives of others.

According to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, an estimated one in six Australians, totalling 4.4 million individuals, have some form of disability.

Amanda understands that navigating the healthcare system can be especially challenging for individuals with disabilities.

Through the support of the Noel Kahler program and Katherine Jackman (Quality and Safety Manager), the first phase of Amanda's research project involved thirty nurses from Wesley Emergency Centre and the Day Surgery Unit undertaking a questionnaire which examined their perceived knowledge, attitude and confidence in providing care to a patient with a disability.

Of these 30 nurses, 80% stated they had not received any training in caring for patients with a disability.

The second phase of the project involved the nurses completing an online training program called "Access for All," which is aimed at improving disability awareness among health providers.

Through completing this course, 100% of participants received disability training and 100% acknowledged the course improved their confidence in providing care to a patient with a disability.

“We are still in the process of compiling and analysing all the data but the early numbers suggest the nurses who participated in the study believed the Access for Course has improved their knowledge and skills in providing care to patients with a disability” Amanda said.

“We know our clinicians want to provide the best possible care to all our patients; therefore, it’s crucial they receive the necessary training to enhance their knowledge and confidence in caring for patients with a disability”.

Amanda said that additional education on disability awareness is important as negative healthcare experiences can lead to people with disabilities avoiding to seek medical care when required, resulting in poorer health outcomes.

Amanda's overarching goal is to facilitate a welcoming and supportive atmosphere for both patients and hospital team members, ensuring that everyone can access high-quality healthcare services. This goal aligns with recent reports from the Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care who have acknowledged the importance of Disability awareness and inclusive healthcare.

Amanda Cook's dedication to patient safety and her personal connection to the cause make her research project a significant step toward improving the healthcare experience for individuals with disabilities.

Her efforts underscore the importance of education and training in fostering inclusive healthcare environments that cater to the diverse needs of all patients, ultimately leading to better health outcomes for everyone.


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