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

Updated advice issued to address health inequalities for people with learning disabilities

hospitalUpdated guidance for providers detailing how to improve the health-based support they provide to people with learning disabilities, based on the learning of organisations that use the Health Charter, has been launched, along with a report.

The report was launched by the Voluntary Organisations Disability Group (VODG), National Development Team for Inclusion (NDTi) and National Care Forum (NCF).

With more than 100 organisations now signed up to the Health Charter, the guide is based on the learning of 20 organisations that have been using the charter to improve support provided to people with learning disabilities and directly address health inequalities.

The Health Charter, launched in 2014, is designed to support social care providers to improve the health and wellbeing of people with learning disabilities, thus improving people’s quality of life generally.

People with learning disabilities not only have worse health than the general population; they die on average 16 years younger than their non-learning disabled peers, according to the 2013 Confidential Inquiry into the premature deaths of people with learning disabilities. Many of these health issues are preventable.

Dr Rhidian Hughes, VODG chief executive, said: “We are encouraging learning disability providers to sign up to the health charter and to play their part in tackling health inequalities. Organisations and their staff have a vital role to play in promoting health and wellbeing and making it easier for individuals to access services. As more providers and staff adopt the principles and checks contained in the charter there is a better chance of closing the health inequality gap experienced by people with learning disabilities.”

Sue Turner, learning disability lead at NDTI, added: “It is really important that health and social care commissioners and providers work in partnership with people with learning disabilities and families to address health inequalities. A partnership approach underpins the charter, and the report contains some excellent examples from practice, that could be replicated everywhere. We need to stop people dying as a result of basic errors in physical health care monitoring, and failures to implement the Mental Capacity Act when making decisions about issues like healthcare, diet and behaviour.”

Des Kelly OBE, executive director of the NCF, added: “Care providers and their staff have an important role in supporting people with learning disabilities to lead healthy lives and access healthcare services in timely ways. The charter, and the resources that underpin it, have been developed and informed through co-production and partnership. We will be encouraging providers to make full use of them to improve individual well-being and health.”

Copies of the report and updated health charter are available to download at: www.vodg.org.uk/health-charter/health-charter-home.html

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