STOP! I have a learning disability
Patient health and social care watchdog Healthwatch Derbyshire has teamed up with the county's Good Health Group to better support individuals with learning disabilities.
Healthwatch Derbyshire and the Good Health Group - part of Derbyshire County’s Learning Disability Partnership Board - have developed a poster entitled – STOP – I have a learning disability.
It will be distributed to people with learning disabilities to take to appointments and displayed in GPs, dentists and hospitals across the county.
The poster includes prompts for practitioners and patients to agree non-verbal signals if they are in pain, want to ask a question or need further support at the beginning of treatment or a consultation.
The poster production followed a recent Healthwatch Derbyshire report detailing the views and experiences of people with learning disabilities and their carers when accessing health services.
A particular issue highlighted was the need for better communication and understanding when patients need a procedure, such as dental treatment, to stop.
Healthwatch Derbyshire Chief Executive Officer Karen Ritchie explained: "The feedback from patients and service users for our report highlighted the need to raise awareness of communication difficulties that many individuals with learning disabilities may face when accessing health services.
"People with learning disabilities may express pain and communicate in a number of different ways.
"Our aim is for clinicians including GPs, Dentists, consultants and other health professionals to stop and take a moment to understand that the patient has a learning disability and clearly ascertain the individual's preferred method of telling them to stop if they are in pain or are feeling anxious.
"It also acts as a reminder of the importance of listening to family carers and support workers and to consult individuals' hospital passports which may be valuable information contained that could improve the treatment or consultation.
“We have had an excellent response from health service providers and commissioners and are confident that this poster will be widely displayed across the county.”
The move was welcomed by Cettina Thomason of Active Support, a Derbyshire based Learning Disabilities Day Services Provider, who said: “I think this is an excellent idea.
“There have been occasions where I have taken our service receivers to the doctors, hospital or dentist and the medical staff have turned round to me and said ‘how do we know when they are in pain?’
“They shouldn’t have been asking me, they should have been asking the individual so hopefully this poster will highlight this. More consideration should be made to these individuals so they can receive a better overall experience.”