The Salford Care Organisation Learning Disability team are making big strides in helping to improve care for people with learning disabilities.
One programme of work that is making significant changes to the care that people with learning disabilities experience is a project to support health initiatives and improved health outcomes for adults with a learning disability in partnership with Primary Care.
Amanda Anderton, Clinical Nurse is the lead on this project and explains why it is essential that primary care professionals understand the nuances when caring for adults with learning disabilities,
“People with learning disabilities face serious health inequalities and have lower life expectancy, dying on average 25 years sooner and often from treatable and avoidable conditions.
Our work with GP practices is important to help reduce the health inequalities that people with learning disabilities face. We work along side the practices to understand the areas where enhancements or improvements to care can be made and advise on what reasonable adjustments can be made to allow for more person-centred care.”
Learning from LeDeR
Taking learning from LeDeR reviews undertaken in Salford the team discovered several themes in the health care that people with learning disabilities received. The LeDeR review process, a Learning Disability Mortality Review Programme (2020), was set up to look at why people are dying prematurely and what we can do to change services locally and nationally to improve the health of people with a learning disability and reduce health inequalities.
Some of the trends highlighted include the fact that many people with learning disabilities were missing their annual health checks, there was low uptake in vaccination and screening programmes, patients were suffering from undiagnosed illness and pain and experienced delays in care and treatment.
Some of the reasons around this can include lack of accuracy in the GP registration of people with learning disabilities, lack of understanding around reasonable adjustments for appointments and tests, difficulties communicating and understanding potential symptoms or discomfort by patients and carers.
Working with Primary Care
“Our learning disability specialist nurses can work with GP practices to tackle some of the areas where reasonable adjustments can be made to support adults with learning disabilities. We can provide help and support with access to tests and screening programmes, provide advice on different ways to do things like check-ups or vaccinations, supply easy to read materials and guidance and provide ongoing education and support for staff,” said Amanda.
Most recently, the team provided community support for vaccines for people with learning disabilities. They ran local specialty clinics in partnership with GP practices and provided home visits for people who were unable to attend clinics. For people who found the process of vaccination too overwhelming, they were able to provide light sedation and customised vaccination delivery. The next programme they will be focussing on is working to provide support with cancer screening and improving diagnosis rates.
Wait, there's more
The award-winning Learning Disability team offers a wide range of additional services as well, such as providing support to enable people to live independently or within supported living environments, respite and day service options, support transitioning from child to adult care, support for people who are admitted to hospital, as well as specialist therapeutic input from a range of dedicated health care professionals and therapists.