Learning Disability Today
Supporting professionals working in learning disability and autism services

New short film highlights the challenges people with a learning disability face when accessing primary care

The Sunnybank Trust and Surrey Heartlands ICS Research Team have produced a new video highlighting the challenges people with learning disabilities face when accessing primary care.

The film aims to empower healthcare professionals to take positive action and features the voices and real-life experiences of those with a learning disability.

Produced by Strange Beast and directed by Ivyy Chen, the film offers a starting point for action and discussion around the positive changes that can be made to improve access to primary care and address health inequalities for people with learning disabilities.

Dorothy Watson, The Sunnybank Trust CEO, said: “The Sunnybank Trust is extremely proud of our partners with a learning disability and the work they have put into this project, often sharing their most private moments in an effort to help others and ignite real change.

“As an organisation that supports people with learning disabilities, we witness the daily challenges that our partners face when accessing health care.  We hope that the messages in this video reach those in healthcare roles across the country in order for true positive change to be made. It’s only when we work together that we can achieve a high standard of care for all.”

Annual Health Checks support people with a learning disability to make better-informed decisions about their health and help reduce health inequalities. Through this tool, health needs can be identified and supported for the long term.

Research shows that despite recent improvements, low uptake has been attributed to low levels of awareness of the benefits and value of this programme.

Liz Bruce, Joint Executive Director of Adult Social Care and Integrated Commissioning for Surrey County Council, and across Surrey Heartlands ICS, said: “This research is absolutely key in ensuring our health and care system is inclusive, accessible and effective for everyone. Here in Surrey, we want to ensure no one is left behind, and this project gives practitioners and wider frontline staff across NHS and social care a deeper understanding about how to engage and care for people with learning disabilities.

“The animation format helps us quickly and easily understand these views and I hope it will prove effective in delivering better outcomes for people with learning disabilities in Surrey.

People with a learning disability have worse physical and mental health than people without a learning disability. Poor quality healthcare is one of the main causes of health inequalities and avoidable deaths in people with a learning disability.

Dr Julia Chase, a Surrey-based GP, added: “The Annual Health Checks for people with learning disabilities are hugely important. They allow the GP to pick up any potential health issues and address any patient or carer’s concerns. They also form the foundation of an ongoing doctor-patient relationship that is based on trust, continuity of care and patient-centered support. The aim is that these checks provide a space for people with learning disabilities where they feel heard, supported and valued by the primary care team.”

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