A campaign has been launched to highlight the importance of good postural care for thousands of people with multiple disabilities.
The Postural Care Action Group is calling for better support to prevent unnecessary body distortion and to protect the body shape of people with multiple disabilities, such as those with profound and multiple learning disabilities (PMLD).
Health issues that can result from body distortion include spinal scoliosis, breathing difficulties, and pressure on internal organs. While raising awareness about the postural care needs of people with multiple disabilities is the focus of the campaign, the group stresses that there are many other people who find it hard to move who could also potentially benefit from better access to postural care. For example, people with spinal injuries, multiple sclerosis, people who are temporarily immobilised due to illness or surgery, and some older people.
The Postural Care Action Group is made up of organisations including Mencap, PAMIS, Postural Care Skills, the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy, the College of Occupational Therapists and the Royal College of Nursing. It is calling for the NHS to offer a clear plan for all people with multiple disabilities to protect their body shape. This includes: professionals working with families to identify people who have, or are likely to develop, postural care needs; assessment using measurements of body symmetry; development of postural care plans; and provision of training and equipment.
In 2010, a report commissioned by the Department of Health recommended that the NHS should provide health services to adults with PMLD that focus on the protection of body shape. Postural care services have clear benefits for the health and wellbeing of individuals and reduce the need for invasive surgical procedures, yet provision of this type of service is limited across the UK.
Beverley Dawkins OBE, national officer for profound and multiple learning disabilities at Mencap, said: "People often assume that body shape distortion is inevitable for people with multiple disabilities, but that is not actually the case. "With correct positioning, body shape distortion is preventable and can even be corrected later in life. Failure to protect body shape can have serious health consequences. It can even result in premature death."
A booklet and a film have been produced to support the campaign. The resources use real life stories to show how training, information and funding for equipment can be used to ensure good postural care.
Download the booklet and watch the film at www.mencap.org.uk/posturalcare