The Learning Disability Mortality Review has found that the disparity between the age at death of people with learning disabilities and the general population is 23 years for men and 27 years for women. Many of the causes of these deaths are preventable and good nutrition and hydration are fundamental to living a healthy life.
The Voluntary Organisations Disability Group (VODG) is committed to tackling health inequalities experienced by disabled people. The group has partnered with Professor Chris Hatton at Lancaster University to explore how social care providers can support disabled people to maintain healthy levels of nutrition and hydration. A new good practice guide has been developed for frontline managers and service leaders to share key learning and to highlight examples of good practice.
As part of this VODG project, Professor Hatton has helped services consider the food and drink they offer to people with learning disabilities against evidence and guidelines for healthy eating and drinking.
The new resource,‘Good food matters’, recognises that staff practice and individual behaviour in relation to food and drink requires a long-term, organisational commitment. Sustained change involves addressing organisational cultures and personal attitudes as well as embedding a focus on supporting people to eat high quality food. The guide contains dietary information about how food may impact conditions like epilepsy, obesity, and dysphagia.
VODG chief executive Rhidian Hughes said:
“We know that what people eat and drink are important determinants as to whether they have a healthy life. As a group we are committed to reduce health inequalities experienced by disabled people. Our new guide draws together learning and good practice to prompt discussion and positive change.”
Professor Chris Hatton at Lancaster University said:
“What we eat and drink is crucial to our health and happiness.
“It is great to have been working with VODG and members to develop this good practice resource. We hope this will help all services to ensure people are eating and drinking in ways that support people to lead healthier, happier and longer lives.”
Printed copies of the resource will be freely available at a series of events VODG is hosting for social care providers who want to improve the health of people with a learning disability. To find out more about these events for providers pleasevisit this link.
The Voluntary Organisations Disability Group (VODG) is a membership body representing organisations within the voluntary sector who work alongside disabled people.