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Wirral University Hospital NHS Foundation Trust

WUTH joins the Hidden Disabilities Sunflower Scheme

Wirral University Teaching Hospital has adopted an innovative sunflower scheme to identify people with a hidden disability.

Not all disabilities are visible – some are hidden and not immediately obvious, such as learning difficulties, mental health as well as mobility, speech, visual or hearing impairments. Without obvious evidence of the disability, it can be difficult for others to recognise and sympathy and understanding can often be in short supply.

The Trust has joined the Hidden Disabilities Sunflower Scheme in which people can wear a sunflower in the form of a lanyard, badge, ribbon, card or wrist band. It lets people know that you may need help or a bit more time to do something.  During the last few months, you may have noticed people with sunflower cards showing they are exempt from wearing face masks.

Tracy Mason, Nurse Quality and Governance Lead Critical Care is part of the WUTH Sunflowers staff network, helping to ensure that developments within the Trust meet the needs of those with disabilities and long-term health conditions.  Tracy said: “I wear my sunflower as a recognition of the hidden disability I have.”

Tracy was the Critical Care Matron at Arrowe Park when she had a stroke.  After a stay in hospital, Tracy went home to recover. She added: “I felt a fraud though as I didn’t have anything to show what had happened. There were no physical signs that people could see. My speech however took a while to come back to normality and when I spoke to strangers, I took a while as nervousness only made things worse. People would sometimes finish my sentences which could be frustrating too.”

She returned to work, supported by her colleagues, but it became clear that she couldn’t continue as Matron. Fortunately she was successful in being appointed to a new role, Nurse Quality and Governance Lead Critical Care.  Tracy says: “I would encourage anyone with a hidden disability to wear a sunflower, not just here at WUTH, but in the wider community too. It subtly indicates to people that you may need additional support, help or a little more time.”

Jacqui Grice, Executive Director of Workforce, said: “We are delighted to now be part of this exciting scheme, giving extra support for our patients, visitors and colleagues. This is another step in providing the best care we can for everyone.”