Services to become more Accessible for People with Learning Disabilities

22 Oct 2019

Whittington Health NHS Trust has been awarded a grant of over £80,000 by The Burdett Trust for Nursing to fund the development of new, more accessible information for the patients it treats who have learning disabilities.

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Whittington Health NHS Trust has been awarded a grant of over £80,000 by The Burdett Trust for Nursing to fund the development of new, more accessible information for the patients it treats who have learning disabilities.
The new funding will significantly improve access to treatment for and the experience of patients with a learning disability receiving care at Whittington Health and help to reduce health inequalities. People with a learning disability are particularly vulnerable to poorer health outcomes and die on average 23-27 years sooner than the general population. More than a third of these deaths are down to people not getting the right healthcare.
 
Armed with this information, a multidisciplinary team of professionals from across the trust assembled earlier in the year to identify how services across Whittington Health measured up against the best practice standards set out nationally. One of the key actions from this was to improve accessible information for people with a learning disability.  The £82,349 grant awarded by The Burdett Trust will help Whittington Health to work alongside patients and people living with learning disabilities to help to create a new suite of information tailored to their needs.
 
This will include looking at how we can make appointment letters, current patient information leaflets and the information on the Trust’s website more accessible. Many people with a learning disability use Makaton, a unique language programme that uses symbols, signs and speech to help them to communicate – the Trust will look at how this could be incorporated into patient communications.
 
The idea of going for medical treatment or into hospital can be scary for all of us, but if you have a learning disability it can be especially upsetting – so some of the grant will be used to create 360 degree videos of clinical areas so that people with a learning disability can familiarise themselves with what they will experience ahead of their appointment. It is hoped that this will increase the number of people with learning disability who attend their appointments, improve their experience and allow them to engage more fully in their own health and care.
 
Speaking about the grant, Alison Kett, Associate Director of Nursing for Adult Community Services said: “We are so grateful to the Burdett Trust for this grant. It will enable us to develop much more inclusive services which are tailored to the unique needs of people living with a learning disability. As an organisation our vision is to ‘help local people to live longer, healthier lives’ – this funding will allow us to make that a reality for a group of people who struggle to access the services which most of us take for granted.”
 
Talking about the bid, Shirley Baines, Chief Executive of the Burdett Trust for Nursing said: “Burdett Nursing Trust were impressed by the quality of the bid from Whittington Health. We are very pleased to be able to support the project to improve accessible information for patients with learning disability who use services in the hospital and community.”
 
This work builds on a similar project which has just been completed to make Whittington Health’s services for Children and Young people more autism friendly. After working with the charity Ambitious about Autism and local young people with autism, Whittington Health has recently launched a new section on its website designed specifically for children and young people who have autism or other learning disabilities.
 
The pages include visual stories and videos to help prepare young people for a visit to hospital and provide information about going to hospital, what to expect when you get there, communicating support needs to healthcare staff and a glossary of terms.
 
Image copyright of Jisc and Matt Lincoln, CC BY-NC-ND

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