Some thoughts from the co-chairs, Shaun Picken and Sue Turner
It was great to see so many people come together to talk about better health and wellbeing and people with learning disabilities on the 20th June. This is a really important subject. We know more about health and people with learning disabilities than we ever did, and there is lots of good stuff going on. We heard lots of examples on the day. But we still need to do a lot more. People with learning disabilities are still dying 15-20 years younger than other people and many of these deaths are avoidable. This is shocking. So, throughout the day we were asked to think about what we can do to help people live longer and healthier lives.
These are some of the things that made us think.
Chris Hatton told us that over half of all children and young people with learning disabilities do not sport of exercise. One quarter of adults with learning disabilities have not walked for 10 minutes or more in the past 12 weeks. This is shocking. It should not be difficult to do something about this.
Aaron Carliell told us about his health check. He said it had given him a ‘kick up the bum’. This is because he weighed too much. It was affecting his health. After the health check, he worked hard to lose weight. He got a new job and his weight loss has also helped with his acting. He doesn’t have to worry so much about getting into the costumes now!
So, health checks are really important. But Kirsten Lamb told us that only about half of people who are eligible get a health check, even though they can help reduce the health inequalities that people with learning disabilities experience. She told us about the new health check template for GPs. There is also guidance for GPs, for families, supporters and people with learning disabilities. We have everything we need to make sure all people get the health checks they need.
The Misfits made us think about how people still don’t listen. People who are in pain or ill but can’t tell us may start to behave differently. They might get depressed or grumpy. They might hit other people or themselves. It is always important to check and see if there is a physical cause. People have ended up in Assessment and Treatment Units because of things like toothache.
The Misfits also reminded us that simple things like having a sight test can make a huge difference to people’s lives.
So, there are lots of things we can do – some of them very simple – for people to have better health and better lives.
To see the Misfits film, 'Health Is Everybody's Responsibility', follow this link.
Sue Turner is the Programme Lead - Learning Disabilities at the National Development Team for Inclusion (NDTi)
NDTi is an organisation that promotes equal and inclusive lives for people in their communities, particularly where ageing or disability are issues
Sue Turner's blog is a personal opinion and does not necessarily reflect the views of the NDTi.