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Making mandatory training for health professionals a reality

Dimensions is delighted that the government has today heeded our calls and announced a consultation into the provision of mandatory learning disability training for health professionals.

Most people will be baffled that health professionals do not currently receive mandatory training in how best to support the health needs of people with learning disabilities.

Figures from Dimensions #MyGPandMe campaign reveal that two thirds of GPs have received less than a day’s training. Fully 98% say they would benefit from training delivered by people with learning disabilities.

There is little doubt that unequal access to appropriate healthcare contributes to the fact that people with learning disabilities live shorter lives than other people – by well over 2 decades.

#MyGPandMe spokesperson and learning disabled self advocate Jordan Smith says, “Our own training with GP surgeries tells us that this training is most impactful when delivered face to face by a person with learning disabilities and we look forward to encouraging government to make this model a reality.”

“We brought a series of recent anecdotes to a recent NHS event that graphically illustrate how variable people’s experience is. Family members told us:

Good experiences of healthcare

  • We rang A&E and warned them we were coming and please to allow us a side room to wait in. They did provide this.
  • We discussed what was in his best interest with various nurses and consultants. The scan would need him to be sedated.  They weighed up the likelihood that he was injured against the impact of putting him through sedation.
  • The hospital team were respectful to him and support team, but there wasn’t any obvious sign of them being LD trained.  We didn’t feel rushed or that we were being a nuisance.
  • The care, understanding and patience at my son’s operation were all very good and the nurses were keen to accommodate me, him and his support worker
  • Before surgery my son had to have a blood test. The nurse was happy for me to have one first so he could see it was no big deal
  • I was allowed to go to the theatre with him until he was unconscious and they fetched me immediately he started coming round.

Bad experiences of healthcare

  • They try hard and are very kind but they have no signing skills whatsoever.
  • We took his hospital passport but none of the staff knew what it was or what to do with it.
  • When my son had an operation no one had read his hospital passport
  • After an operation, staff said he couldn’t leave until he had eaten a cheese sandwich. He would still have been there today! We gave him a Kit-Kat but had to sign a disclaimer
  •  Staff wanted him to urinate in a bottle. He is autistic and you don’t wee in a bottle! We felt there was no understanding of autism at all.
  • The GP is refusing to check to see whether there are any lumps in my son’s testicles saying we have to teach him to feel for himself. He wouldn’t have a clue. What good are annual health checks?
  • Lack of reasonable adjustments about appointment and waiting times are endemic!

Our #MyGPandMe campaign, launched in Spring 2018, is making healthcare more accessible for people with learning disabilities and autism. Today’s announcement is a huge step forward in achieving that and we hope to see healthcare professionals with a greater understanding of learning disabilities, autism and accessibility. Find out more.