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Pioneering picture stories can help reduce barriers to NHS cancer screening

You can download the updated picture stories from the Beyond Words website

Pioneering charity Beyond Words has updated its wordless picture stories about bowel cancer screening, breast screening and cervical screening.

These resources are free to download and print off from the Beyond Words website. They are accessible to everyone, whether or not they can read words.

PHE supported Beyond Words to update the picture stories in line with current national guidance and processes for the 3 NHS cancer screening programmes.

One of the pages from the Beyond Words bowel cancer screening picture story

Using these resources can help reduce unfair barriers to screening for people who cannot read or do not like written words. This can include:

  • people with learning disabilities and/or autism
  • people with cognitive or communication difficulties, such as dementia
  • people who have difficulty with reading, including some deaf people

Choice of information resources and formats

Local screening providers have a legal duty to make reasonable adjustments for people with learning disabilities and/or autism so they can access their services. This includes considering how individuals like information to be presented and tailoring it accordingly.

Providers can now direct people, according to their individual needs, to a range of different national information resources including:

Each Beyond Words picture story is accompanied by a guide on how to use the resource and a possible storyline which a family member, carer or health professional can refer to when talking through the pictures with the reader.

Using the picture stories in this way can help open up conversations, making it possible to check the reader’s understanding, answer any questions they may have, reduce anxiety and support decision-making.

Beyond Words Founder and Chair Baroness Sheila Hollins (pictured above) said:

It is vital that people with learning disabilities and/or autism have the support they need to access our life-saving NHS screening services. These 3 leaflets will empower people to understand what screening involves so that they feel well prepared and are confident enough to participate. Cancer does not discriminate, and we must ensure that nobody is excluded from timely and effective diagnosis and treatment simply because they do not understand what is involved.

PHE Screening blog

The PHE Screening blog provides up to date news from all NHS screening programmes. You can register to receive updates direct to your inbox, so there’s no need to keep checking for new blogs. If you have any questions about this blog article, or about population screening in England, please contact the PHE screening helpdesk.

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