Caring for People With Learning Disabilities

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It is also important to know how they usually act.

Let’s help the healthcare profession respect people with learning disabilities | Certitude London

It might be helpful to seek information from a care worker, family member or anyone who spends time with the patient on a regular basis — and they should be listened to. People with learning disabilities are more likely to be underweight or overweight. They are more likely to experience poor mental health and earlier onset dementia.

Chest infections are not uncommon and can be attributed to dysphagia and difficulties with eating and drinking. They sometimes result in early death.

Respite care for adults with Autism and Learning Disabilities

Epilepsy is around 20 times more common than in the general population. It is important to make sure that you do not let the learning disability overshadow another clinical condition. People who have a learning disability often find it difficult to express how they feel or where it hurts and healthcare staff must be mindful of this at all times. Distress affects the way people communicate and patients may present with aggressive behaviour, self-harm or aggression.

People with learning disabilities deserve joined-up medical care

Healthcare professionals must understand that these behaviours happen for a reason and may be related to a clinical condition. Staff must be calm and supportive in such situations. On many occasions, patients with learning disabilities are admitted to hospital as an acute emergency for conditions that primary care services would commonly treat much earlier. People with learning disabilities have the same rights to make their own choices as everyone else, by law.

Sometimes a patient may find it useful to have an independent personal advocate — these can be sourced by a local authority or local advocacy group.

It is equally important not to impose your own values on a patient and understand that if they wish to make an unwise decision, they do not necessarily lack capacity. The communication between healthcare staff and the patient with a learning disability must be clear, checked for understanding, and should be assisted by tools and resources to achieve the best outcome.

Primary care is a perfect setting to address many of the needs of people with learning disabilities by being sensitive to their needs, offering earlier interventions, health advice and health promotion initiatives.


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This will improve the quality of life for these people, who may not always articulate their needs in an effective way. People with challenging behaviour are more likely to be prescribed anti-psychotic medication.


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This should be carefully reviewed. Strengthening the rights of people who have a learning disability is critical. Legislation currently exists to provide safeguards but is not universally understood or applied. This must be a priority. Most primary care staff already have the skills to care for people with learning disabilities in a positive, safe and effective way, but further support is available from the community learning disability team and the consultant learning disability nurse in your area.

It supports other health and social care agencies to provide mainstream services to people with learning disabilities that will enable health improvement and reduce barriers when accessing services. The service strives to improve both the physical and mental health of people with learning disabilities by providing efficient and effective health care based on individual needs.

The service is for adults with a learning disability aged 16 or over and no longer in full time statutory education. Without the additional diagnosis of learning disability people with the following diagnosis would not be appropriate for our service Recommended primary source of referral is through the GP however referrals are accepted from all sources and should be made directly to the local community team.

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The Care Act is the law covering social care care and support , bringing together many existing laws and creating some new important rights. Find information and support about getting the best help available for your child. How to find out what support is available to you if you care for a disabled adult. Are you concerned about the care someone is receiving? If so, read our advice about what to do. Special thanks to Irwin Mitchell Solicitors for helping us write this information.


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