Spotlight on Learning Disabilities at the Trust
Date: 07 November 2018
Research has shown that people with a learning disability have a life expectancy 20 years lower than the general population. Eloise Brett, Learning Disabilities Liaison Nurse, reveals how she supports patients with learning disabilities in hospital:
''My role is to ensure that adults with learning disabilities have the same access to healthcare as you or I would expect. Coming into hospital is stressful time as it is, but for people with learning disabilities it can be particularly frightening. I act as a liaison between the patient, their family or carer and healthcare staff. I am the patient’s advocate.
“First thing every morning I check our bed management system, to see if new patients with learning disabilities have been admitted overnight. This shows us where patients are across the hospital.
“Then I go and do my ward rounds, visiting every patient in the hospital who has a learning disability. I prioritise any patient who has very complex needs and see them first. I also try and attend board rounds every morning. This is when everyone involved in patient care gets together to talk about each patient so it’s a good opportunity for me to raise any issues with everyone involved in my patients’ care. Visiting patients and attending board rounds will usually take up most of my morning.
“I spend a lot of my time teaching and giving staff training on learning disability awareness and we now have 70 learning disability champions in wards across the trust. By law, healthcare staff are required to make reasonable adjustment for patients with learning disabilities. This could mean giving patients the first appointment of the day or making sure that their treatment plan can be carried out in as few hospital visits as possible.
“It’s really important that all staff are aware of what is required for patients with learning disabilities otherwise these patients do not get the care they need. Every year in this country the deaths of 1,200 people with learning disabilities could have been avoided. This is not acceptable.
“We all need to work together, not just within the Trust, but also with healthcare providers in the community and social care too, to ensure that our patients with learning disabilities receive the care they deserve.”
Research has shown that people with a learning disability have a life expectancy 20 years lower than the general population. Eloise Brett, Learning Disabilities Liaison Nurse, reveals how she supports patients with learning disabilities in hospital.