The Hidden Disabilities Sunflower Scheme

The Hidden Disabilities Sunflower scheme helps support and raise awareness of those living with a hidden disability.

Thanks to Charitable Funds Sunflower lanyards are being introduced in our Trust, in addition to making the Sunflower lanyards available to patients with a hidden disability. Members of staff are being trained to identify the Hidden Disabilities Sunflower, gain a deeper understanding of hidden disabilities and learn how to approach and support patients with a hidden disability. Find out more about the Sunflower here.

Where can I get a Sunflower Lanyard?

Lanyards are provided by our trained Hidden Disabilities Sunflower Champions. At the moment there are about 100 trained Champions, who can be recognised as they will be wearing their Sunflower badge.

What is a Hidden Disabilities Sunflower Champion?

A Champion is a member of staff of East Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust who has received training to recognise patients with hidden disability and deliver a positive experience. A Champion is obligated to wear a badge to indicate to patients that they recognise the Sunflower and have received training.

What is a Hidden Disability?

Hidden disabilities are exactly that, hidden. They may include learning difficulties, mental health issues, anxiety as well as mobility, speech, visual or hearing impairments. They can also include asthma, COPD, and other long term ill health and chronic diseases such as renal failure, diabetes, and sleep disorders. Living with these conditions can make daily life more demanding for many people. They affect each person in different ways. Without visible evidence of the hidden disability, it can be difficult for others to recognise the challenges faced and as a consequence health outcomes can be poorer in these groups.

What is the Hidden Disabilities Sunflower Scheme?

Since ESHT launched this scheme in 2019, it has been adopted globally by major airports and venues and in the UK including supermarkets, railways and coach stations, leisure facilities, the NHS, a number of police, fire and ambulance services, and an increasing number of small and large businesses and organisations.

The Hidden Disabilities Sunflower will support ESHT staff to identify patients with a hidden disability and become confident in providing them with additional help or assistance. This could simply mean giving them more time to prepare or process information, using clear verbal language or allowing them to remain with a family member at all times.

The rules surrounding Covid-19 is having a greater detrimental impact on people with hidden disabilities including limiting visitors to wards, wearing masks causing facial expressions to be hidden during conversations. If staff can immediately recognise that a person has a hidden disability they can be supported from the first contact and not asked questions that could cause upset, for example being asked to wear a mask. The Sunflower cards are used to identify some types of disability and the support they require therefore mitigating unnecessary repeated questioning and undue stress.