KINGSTON — The National Disability Bill, with provisions to safeguard the rights of persons with disabilities, is to be enacted by next March, says Director of Emergency Disaster Management and Special Services in the Ministry of Health, Dr. Marion Bullock Ducasse.
She was speaking at a training workshop for frontline health workers, at the Medallion Hall Hotel in Kingston on Thursday (May 19).
The Bill, now in itsfinal drafting stage, will enforce issues addressed in the National Policy for Persons with Disabilities, including education and training, employment, housing, family life, and accessibility.
Dr. Bullock Ducasse noted that, as a signatory to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, Jamaica is sending a strong signal that it is committed to the Convention by implementing the necessary steps, including training health care workers to respect and understand the needs of disabled patients.
“I am very pleased with this initiative, which will be extended to all the regions over a four-week period,” she said.
She explained that areas to be addressed, such as improving customer relations for persons with disabilities and the development of strategies to overcome communication barriers between care providers and disabled clients, are “most relevant."
She said it was important that staff is trained in basic customer service, to ensure that the environment in which people access health service is caring, professional and compassionate. She pointed out that disabled clients, in particular, need extra attention and have a right to be protected and respected.
“Let us remember that we are offering a service to our patients, and their experience determines the reputation of the health facility. Every patient deserves adequate care and support. This is our priority, as the needs of the patient should come first,” she stated.
The training workshops targeted workers such as ward assistants, porters, security guards, nurses and allied health workers who interact with the majority of disabled patients.
By ALECIA SMITH, JIS Reporter