Editorial

Specialist training is essential to meet the needs of people with learning disabilities

Mencap’s Treat Me Well campaign aimed at healthcare professionals follows NHS failings more than a decade ago 

Mencap’s new campaign aims to ensure that no healthcare professional can set foot in a hospital without having undergone training in understanding the needs of people with learning disabilities.

The campaign called Treat Me Well follows its Death by Indifference report published 11 years ago, which focused on the deaths of six people with learning disabilities that were the result of NHS failings.


Richard Handley died as a result of 
complications of constipation in 2012

Fast forward to 2018 and, while there have been improvements, there are still cases of care going wrong for people with learning disabilities. Richard Handley, who died as a result of complications of constipation in 2012 is just one well publicised case.

Confidential inquiry

The Confidential Inquiry into Premature Deaths of People with Learning Disabilities in 2013 found 38% of people with a learning disability die prematurely compared with 9% in the general population.

‘The RCN is campaigning for every hospital in the land to have a learning disability nurse on duty to advise on the best way to make reasonable adjustments’

The Learning Disabilities Mortality Review programme aims to gather enough information from around the country to make service improvements. Evidence shows there are four fatal, but under-recognised conditions in people with learning disabilities: constipation, dehydration, aspiration and seizures.

Survey 

In a survey of 500 healthcare professionals Mencap found nearly one quarter had never attended training on meeting the needs of patients with a learning disability; one in three think that care is worse for patients with learning disabilities; and almost half think that lack of training is contributing to premature deaths of people with learning disabilities.

There is a key role here for learning disability nurses.

The RCN is campaigning for every hospital in the land to have a learning disability nurse on duty to advise on the best way to make reasonable adjustments. There will also be new standards for nursing education from the Nursing and Midwifery Council which are expected to include learning disabilities in the curriculum and ensure a future for your field of practice.

 

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