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.

Free course

Exploring learning disabilities: supporting belonging

5 Unnecessary deaths

A sense of urgency has been lent to the efforts of addressing the healthcare needs of people with learning disabilities by some high-profile cases where young people have needlessly died.

Described image
Figure 6 A clearer picture of the numbers of people with learning disabilities who have needlessly died while in hospital is being built

In the next activity you will explore the case of Richard Handley, who had Down’s syndrome and suffered lifelong constipation.

Activity 4 The case of Richard Handley

Timing: Allow about 30 minutes

Read the article from The Guardian at the link below. Then answer the questions that follow.

Link: ‘Gross failure’ in man’s care led to death from constipation [Tip: hold Ctrl and click a link to open it in a new tab. (Hide tip)]

  1. How might ‘reasonable adjustments’ have made a difference to Richard?
To use this interactive functionality a free OU account is required. Sign in or register.
Interactive feature not available in single page view (see it in standard view).
  1. What else would need to happen to prevent these ‘gross failings’?
To use this interactive functionality a free OU account is required. Sign in or register.
Interactive feature not available in single page view (see it in standard view).

Answer

The enormity of what happened to Richard makes it hard to easily unpick how it could have been prevented. However, one of the main issues picked up by the series of reports on healthcare was that no single person has an overview of the complex systems and sets of relationships involved in the care of a person with complex impairments and health needs. Families may try to do this, but they lack the knowledge of the interlocking systems, and, crucially, the authority to command action from healthcare professionals.

Families can be immensely helpful. They can sit with the patient, interpret their communication, explain resistance to blood tests or other interventions, and just be a reassurance in an unfamiliar environment. Sometimes their help is welcomed, but sometimes it can be branded as ‘interfering’, as Sheila put it in the scenario in Section 2 of this session.

Health passports can be useful – as long as they are up to date and everyone knows about them and remembers to consult them.

LD_1

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