Rosie Cooper, MP for West Lancashire, has pledged her support for improving residential care for older Deaf people who communicate using British Sign Language (BSL) by raising awareness of a new Deaf-Aware Care quality mark for care homes. The quality mark has been developed by RAD and [sonus], two charities that support Deaf people.
MP Rosie Cooper said:
“As the eldest daughter of deaf parents, my first language is British Sign Language. I can fully understand how isolated deaf BSL users can become living in residential homes where no one speaks their language.
“In the next 20 years the number of BSL users over 65 will increase by 35 per cent. We cannot ignore the deaf community. It is essential as a society we are more Deaf- Aware to ensure we meet the needs of deaf people.
“For that reason I am backing the Deaf-Aware Care Quality mark to help improve older deaf people’s quality of life. I am encouraging all residential homes in West Lancashire to be proactive and to provide Deaf Aware Care.
Rosie Cooper spoke at the launch of the Deaf-Aware Care quality mark at the House of Commons.
The meeting also heard from Leslie Key, a Deaf 88-year-old care home resident, who said:
“When you cannot communicate with anybody because nobody uses or understands sign language or what it is like to be deaf, then believe me that’s hell.”
Jan Sheldon, chief executive of RAD, said:
“It is great to have Rosie Cooper’s support for making residential care homes better places for deaf BSL users to live in.”
The Parliamentary meeting also launched a new study by the University of Manchester into social care for older deaf people. This confirmed that older BSL users were receiving inadequate residential care because their cultural and communication needs were ignored.