Blog: Why the NHS could benefit from the Sunflower Scheme

15th August 2019

In 2018, more than 1 in 100 people were diagnosed with autism in the UK.

500,000 live with epilepsy and 850,000 with Dementia.

What’s more, these staggering numbers are on the rise.

Therefore; can the NHS do more to help those of us with hidden disabilities?

In 2016, Gatwick Airport trailed the Sunflower Scheme, a new awareness initiative part of Dementia Awareness week.

The scheme provided a lanyard to passengers with hidden disabilities in hope they could travel with ease.

Moreover, the lanyards were a discrete indication to staff that they may need additional assistance.

A spokesperson for Gatwick Airport said:

If you are wearing the lanyard, staff should recognise it and understand that you have a hidden disability.

You may need a little extra help or time.

Fast forward three years and the Sunflower Scheme’s seeds are quickly spreading across the country.

Tesco and Sainsbury’s have started to introduce the lanyard to their stores in hope those affected can tackle everyday tasks we may take for granted.

So, why hasn’t the Sunflower Scheme bloomed across the NHS?

Attending hospital can be a daunting experience for the best of us.

And that’s without considering the bright lights, loud noises and crowded corridors.

In February, The Great Western Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust became the first to welcome the lanyard into their wards.

Consequently, it didn’t take long for staff and patients to notice the benefits.

Staff have been able to assist their patients with ease and have gained a better understanding as to why they may act in certain ways

As a result, those attending have even reported that they can be themselves without judgement.

Although other Trusts are starting to take notice, the Sunflower Scheme still isn’t widely practiced within hospitals up and down the country.

If this happens, this could build a bridge of understanding between patients and consultants and reduce the likelihood of unattended appointments; a benefit I’m sure the NHS would welcome with open arms.

Ultimately, issuing the Scheme across the entire NHS will bring a positive change. 

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