People with learning disabilities do not receive the same standard of healthcare as everyone else: They are 58 times more likely to die before the age of 50, and 4 times more likely to have a preventable cause of death.*
My Life My Choice’s Health Campaign aims to make this better. We want to improve health outcomes for people with learning disabilities.
- People with learning disabilities need to understand what their rights are.
- More people with learning disabilities need to have annual health checks.
- Health checks need to be carried out effectively and should lead to a health action plan.
Read on to find out what My Life My Choice have been doing to help improve the healthcare of people with learning disabilities in Oxfordshire.
In 2010 we carried out a joint study (with Jan Walmsley) into the implementation of Annual Health Checks in Oxfordshire.
We found out about the benefits of health checks…
- Health checks might find undetected health conditions. In one practice, 90 health conditions were identified from 65 health checks.
- Other benefits include getting people with learning disabilities familiar with visiting GP surgeries.
And we found out about some of the problems…
- GP surgeries don’t have records of who might be eligible for a health check.
- A big challenge is to reach out to people with learning disabilities who do not already use their GP surgery and encourage them to go for their health check.
- Many doctors are not trained in working with people with learning disabilities.
- Doctors did not do things like ask carers to leave the room so that they could talk to the patient in private.
- GP surgeries have a low awareness of things they could do to make things easier for people with learning disabilities, like putting letters into easy read.
- My Life My Choice Health Champions found that they often had to wait for a long time, and were not always treated with respect by the reception or clinical staff. We found that basic communication is really important in making a trip to see the Doctor a good experience.
We are now working to make all these things better.
We provide training to medical staff about how to work with people with learning disabilities.
We have been involved in the Justice for LB campaign.
We are working hard to tell more people with learning disabilities about the benefits of going for the health check.
We interviewed Dominic Slowie about improving health care for people who have a learning disability, and wrote a series of blog posts exploring the issues.
*Disability Rights Commission, 2006; Department of Health, 2008.