Exploring learning disabilities: supporting belonging
Exploring learning disabilities: supporting belonging

Start this free course now. Just create an account and sign in. Enrol and complete the course for a free statement of participation or digital badge if available.

3.1 The shortcomings of healthcare

The conclusions of the many reports into the shortcomings of healthcare for people with learning disabilities echo one another. Their findings include:

  • poor communication
  • failure to listen to and learn from family and others who know the person well
  • failure to adjust systems and communications methods to take account of poor literacy, lack of access to transport and other disadvantages experienced by people with learning disabilities
  • need for documentation, such as a health passport, to accompany the person as they encounter healthcare
  • need for more and improved training for all healthcare professionals.
The front cover of Mencap's death by indifference report.
Figure 4 Mencap’s Death by Indifference report (2007) showed that people with learning disabilities were dying early because of poor hospital care

Recommendations to deal with these now well recognised problems include the following measures:

  • introducing ‘health navigators’, people who have the job of helping someone with very complex needs to ‘navigate’ the health and care system
  • using liaison nurses in hospitals whose job it is to support other staff when treating someone with a learning disability
  • the use of health passports explaining the person’s health conditions, their likes and dislikes, and their preferred methods of communication
  • more and improved training for all healthcare professionals
  • involving the patient’s family/people who know them well in their care and treatment
  • making adjustments, such as longer appointment times, phone calls instead of letters, appointments at quiet times, etc. to suit the needs of people with learning disabilities.

Some of these ideas have been translated into legislation, known as ‘reasonable adjustments’, to promote equality of access.

Take your learning further

Making the decision to study can be a big step, which is why you'll want a trusted University. The Open University has 50 years’ experience delivering flexible learning and 170,000 students are studying with us right now. Take a look at all Open University courses.

If you are new to University-level study, we offer two introductory routes to our qualifications. You could either choose to start with an Access module, or a module which allows you to count your previous learning towards an Open University qualification. Read our guide on Where to take your learning next for more information.

Not ready for formal University study? Then browse over 1000 free courses on OpenLearn and sign up to our newsletter to hear about new free courses as they are released.

Every year, thousands of students decide to study with The Open University. With over 120 qualifications, we’ve got the right course for you.

Request an Open University prospectus371