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Evaluation of the Lothian Deaf Counselling Service (LDCS)

Grandmother and grandson
Researchers: Andy MacGregor
Published: April 2009


The Lothian Deaf Counselling Service (LDCS) is a pilot project funded by the Scottish Government and NHS Lothian. It offers counselling using British Sign Language or English to people who are deaf, deafened, hard of hearing or deaf-blind living in the Lothian area. We were asked to evaluate how well the pilot service met its aims, and assess the potential for roll-out in other areas.


Users reported improved mental health: Users said they had reduced their medication, mainly antidepressants, or stopped taking them altogether. Users also reported feeling less isolated and more socially active.

LDCS was better than mainstream counselling: Users said that there was no comparison between the service offered by the LDCS and other counselling services – LDCS was vastly superior.

Referral process viewed positively: Professionals describe the referral system as being straightforward and quick.

Relatively few people used LDCS: In total, 33 clients attended LDCS, and 197 counselling sessions were provided. A possible reason for this is that LDCS was not publicised as actively as it might have been. It was also argued that deaf, deafened or hard of hearing individuals might be less willing to attend a service such as LDCS due to an increased cultural resistance or sense of stigma towards seeking counselling help in the deaf community.


The study involved:

  • Analysing monitoring data and evaluation forms collated by LDCS staff
  • In-depth interviews with key stakeholders (such as commissioners and project staff)
  • Initial and follow-up interviews with service users and their 'significant others'
  • Face-to-face and telephone interviews with professional referrers.

Read the report