Home Lifestyle Paralympian advises on creating an inclusive space at new Emergency Department in Wiltshire

Paralympian advises on creating an inclusive space at new Emergency Department in Wiltshire

by TKOAdmin

Louise Hunt Skelley PLY, former British wheelchair tennis player and Paralympian has advised the team behind the new Emergency Department at Great Western Hospital (GWH) around creating an inclusive space.

Louise, who lives in Swindon, enjoyed a successful tennis career for many years – and before that she was a leading wheelchair racer. She represented Great Britain in tennis at both the Rio and Tokyo Paralympics, and won 13 singles and 41 doubles titles, with a career-high ranking of 10.

In her recent role as consultant for Great Western Hospital, Louise provided invaluable feedback and guidance to ensure the facility is inclusive and accessible for all users, particularly those with disabilities.

“I am honoured to be part of this important project,” said Louise. “It’s crucial that healthcare facilities are designed with inclusivity in mind from the outset. My goal is to ensure that the new Emergency Department at Great Western Hospital meets the highest standards of accessibility for all patients.”

Great Western Hospital’s decision to engage Louise at this early stage is a notable change from the norm, where feedback from disabled users is often sought post-construction. This proactive approach not only sets a precedent for other healthcare institutions but also showcases the significant contributions that consultants like Louise can make in various industries.

“The development of the new Emergency Department at the Great Western Hospital has benefitted greatly from the consultation and support Louise has provided to the project,” said Natalie Lawrence, Lead Nurse of the Integrated Front Door Project.

“Working with Louise has been valuable not only to informing this project but also my own insight both professionally and personally, and that will continue to influence me throughout my career.”

Louise’s involvement is a testament to her growing influence as a consultant in the field of inclusivity and accessibility. Her work with Great Western Hospital highlights the vital role that people with disabilities can play in planning and development.

“I’d like to praise the GWH team for engaging with me and for their refreshing outlook and commitment to making this an inclusive and safe space for everyone, as everywhere should be. They are real role models in inclusion and what can be achieved with a little forward thinking,” Louise said.

Louise advised on several aspects of the project including:

  • Ensuring there were designated and appropriate spaces/areas for wheelchair users in the waiting area (usually this is never considered and wheelchair users have to find a space on the end of a row of seats and hope they are not in the way).
  • Discussing and allowing for some wheelchair users to transfer to a chair as well as staying in their chair as they see fit.
  • Advice and support around waiting cubicles, rooms and toilets, ensuring adequate space for optimal access.
  • Advice in the appropriate use of language and communication when people with disabilities first approach the ‘welcome’ desk, so they feel seen and heard alongside non disabled patients.

“As a direct result of Louise’s involvement, we have amended aspects of the design to ensure greater inclusivity for wheelchair users in our Emergency Department. Beyond the design, Louise has also helped to inform the care and support we can provide for patients who are wheelchair users whilst they are in the Emergency Department,” said Natalie Lawrence.

By incorporating her feedback during the planning stages, the hospital hopes to create an environment that is not only compliant with accessibility standards but also genuinely welcoming and user-friendly for everyone.

Louise’s consultancy services are available to other businesses and organisations looking to enhance their inclusivity practices.

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