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The Individual Accessing Health & Social Care. This assignment discusses learning disabilities and how definitions differ, it looks at how people with learning disabilities can be helped to make their own informed decisions though health promotion and ed

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The Individual Accessing Health & Social Care Introduction This assignment discusses learning disabilities and how definitions differ, it looks at how people with learning disabilities can be helped to make their own informed decisions though health promotion and education, as well as the challenges this group of individuals face and bring to the NHS. The rights of people with learning disabilities to access health and social care and why it's important to be aware of current legislation as well as the external influences that can affect a person's health, their challenges and triggers behind individuals accessing services is also examined. John Smith is a 67 year old gentleman with Down syndrome who is a regular patient on the cardiac ward due to his ongoing heart problems, John also suffers from Type 2 Diabetes which is tablet controlled. He lives alone in a small ground floor flat with carers who attend to his day to day needs four times a day, his only living relative is his 93 year old mother who is in residential care herself. To maintain confidentiality the patient's name has been changed to a pseudonym, in order to conform to the Nursing and Midwifery Council Code of Conduct. (NMC, 2008) What is a Learning Disability & How does it Affect the Individual Accessing Health & Social Care People with learning disabilities are one of the most vulnerable groups in society yet it was only recently in 2001 that a significant 'white paper' was published by the Government to help enable people with learning disabilities to lead full and rewarding lives. This white paper titled 'Valuing People: A New Strategy for Learning Disability for the 21st Century', defines a learning disability as a 'Significantly reduced ability to understand new or complex information, to learn new skills with a reduced ability to cope independently which started before adulthood, with a lasting effect on development'. ...read more.


Often this just involves being prepared to take a little more time to explain something and giving the person more time to understand what is being said. Another approach could be to enlist the help of a person who knows the individual, for example a relative or paid carer. In these cases it is important that the person with learning disabilities is encouraged to make their own choices and not have choices made for them by their carer/relative. But for the carer/relative to use their knowledge of the person to help the healthcare professional explain treatment options, or to interpret the reaction of the person. These strategies will remove the communication barriers and so help in the decision-making process. Taking time to explain treatment plans and procedures, in language that the individual understands then allowing the person time to digest and understand that information. This was certainly something that worked well for Mr Smith when he was on the ward. A nurse would routinely be with him during the Doctors daily rounds in order to be able to explain the treatment with the doctor and spend more time with John if he needed that option. The nurses also know John very well because he is a regular patient on the ward therefore they are aware, to a certain degree, of how he reacts to different situations. The rights of people with learning disabilities to access health care and other services are protected by law, mainly through the Disability Discrimination Act 1995, which was amended in 2005, and the Human Rights Act 1998. Unbelievably discrimination against disabled people was legal in the UK until 1995 when the Disability Discrimination Act was brought in, in order to provide some protection against unfair discrimination in areas such as employment, and access to goods and services. To have any legal protection under the law you've got to be someone "with a physical or mental impairment which has a substantial and long term adverse effect upon your ability to carry out normal day to day activities" (Williamson J, ND) ...read more.


Other triggers maybe are where the signs and symptoms interfere with vocational or physical activity or with social or personal relations. There may also be an influence of others on decisions to seek medical advice as it is rare for someone to decide to go to the doctor without first discussing symptoms with family members, friends or workmates. (Michael Calnan, 1995) Conclusion It is known that people with learning disabilities experience poorer health and healthcare than the general population but everyone has a right to expect and receive appropriate healthcare, therefore you must make reasonable adjustments to ensure that each person has the same opportunity for health, whether or not they have a learning disability. For many people with learning disabilities being able to identify their own health needs is a big challenge, this is where families and paid carers have an important role in helping the individual to access health care. Because of this it is important that health care professionals develop better skills in communicating and working with people with learning disabilities therefore adopting a proactive approach to identifying the needs of individuals with learning disabilities. The need to be aware of current legislation is paramount when treating patients from vulnerable groups within society, for example the Mental Capacity Act (2005) clearly identifies the need for decision makers to find effective ways of communicating with people who have limited capacity. Health promotion and education is a vital part of nursing as it can lead to a longer and healthier life, unfortunately people with learning disabilities often have limited exercise and unhealthy diets. They are usually socially excluded because of high rates of unemployment, poverty, social isolation and restricted lifestyles. John Smith has been looked after by his mother for most of his adult life until she went into residential care when a care agency took over providing care in his own home four times a day. He has been fortunate as his care has been pretty consistent throughout his life, therefore he is able to communicate his thoughts, feelings and needs effectively most of the time. ...read more.

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