Providing accessible information to improve access to healthcare for people with learning disabilities

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There is a developing understanding of the difficulties faced by people with learning disabilities when they want to access health services. One of the projects that the NHS set in motion to address this was the NHS Better Metrics scheme which developed measures of performance to be used for local service quality improvement. The scheme included 12 metrics on health equity and access for people with learning disabilities.

Researchers from the Foundation for People with Learning Disabilities worked with Primary Care Trusts (PCTs), partner organisations and people with disabilities to test the full set of learning disability metrics. Key findings from the project related to the issue of information, both the lack of accessible, easy read materials for people with learning disabilities and the information systems used by doctors to find and disseminate information.

The project found that GPs in particular regularly used the PRODIGY system to download information for themselves and also for their patients to take away as printed material. As a result, the project team developed a range of materials about health care issues relating to people with learning disabilities to add to the PRODIGY system.  The PRODIGY process is rigorous and evidence- based, checking quality of materials before they are published.

The outcome of the project is a series of health care leaflets on the PRODIGY system, accessible to anybody over the internet, developed by ‘Easyhealth’ and the NHS ‘Clinical Knowledge Summaries’  team about some common health problems.

You can read further information about the Better Metrics project here http://www.learningdisabilities.org.uk/our-work/health-well-being/better-health-better-metrics/

You can visit the PRODIY site and download the healthcare leaflets here http://prodigy.clarity.co.uk/information_for_patients/leaflets_by_publisher/easyhealth_leaflets

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John Northfield

John Northfield
After qualifying as a social worker, John worked in community learning disability teams before getting involved in a number of long-stay hospital closure programmes, working to develop individual plans for people moving into their own homes. He worked for BILD for a number of years, helping to develop the Quality Network and was editorial lead for the NHS electronic library learning disabilities specialist collection. This led him to found the Learning Disabilities Elf site with Andre Tomlin as a way of making the evidence accessible to practitioners in health and social care. Most recently he has worked as part of Mencap's national quality team and also been involved in a number of national website developments, including the General Medical Council's learning disabilities site.

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