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Gaps and disparities in access to reasonable adjustments persist

Learning disability nurses can contribute to the broader equality agenda 

Gaps and disparities in access to reasonable adjustments persist

Picture: Roy Mehta

Learning disability nurses are adept at making reasonable adjustments to healthcare services to ensure equality of access and equity of outcome, however many other groups of disabled people in the Equality Act 2010 have similar entitlements.

Learning disability nurses in acute hospitals are well placed to contribute to a broader equality agenda on the needs of the wider population of people with disabilities.

This paper shared the self-reported experiences of 21 adults, who self-identified as having a disability, concerning reasonable adjustments when accessing care in acute hospitals in England. Participants included people with physical and sensory impairments, learning disabilities and mental health support needs.

Semi-structured interviews with thematic analyses were undertaken. Participants reported mixed experiences concerning the identification of their need for reasonable adjustments, adaptation to physical features of hospitals, modification of usual healthcare practices and the provision of supplementary aids or services. While there were instances of good practice, there were also some striking examples of difficult encounters and lack of provision.

The area for improvement most consistently identified was cultural change including staff spending more time talking to people, providing staff training about the needs of people with disabilities, and having better systems to record and share people’s needs. The authors noted a need for greater sharing of good practice in reasonable adjustments.

Read S, Heslop P, Turner S et al (2018) Disabled people’s experiences of accessing reasonable adjustments in hospitals: a qualitative study. BMC Health Services Research. 18, 931.

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