Issues relating to people with learning disabilities rarely grab the headlines or gain much prominence in the healthcare field.
Having said that, they have had some attention in recent years in the wake of the Winterbourne View scandal. The closure of many long stay learning disability hospitals in the 1980s and 90s was supposed to usher in an era in which people lived with much greater independence and autonomy in the community.
While great strides have been made in the interim in many places, there is still concern that too many people with learning disabilities live in large, hospital-like settings. And there has also been an alarming number of cases in which they have received short- shrift once admitted to acute hospitals.
Relatively few physiotherapy staff opt (or get the chance) to specialise in the learning disability field (see page 30). They work very hard, often covering vast patches in their communities with limited, and sometimes diminishing, resources. It’s a stark fact that they couldn’t hope to plug all the gaps. This is where non-specialists need to step in with sensitive responses, making reasonable adjustments where needed.
In a bid to help their colleagues in mainstream services, members of the Association of Chartered Physiotherapists for People with Learning Disabilities have produced a free, downloadable leaflet. This offers, among other things, advice on preparing to treat a new patient with a learning disability (see Jenny Tinkler’s column, page 20).
You never know when you will comes across someone with a learning disability. Everybody can play their part to help ensure they receive a positive, appropriate response.
- Ian A McMillan deputy editor, Frontline email@example.com
AuthorIan A McMillan deputy editor, Frontline
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