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Blood tests for people with learning disabilities: making reasonable adjustments

Posted: 26/09/17

This guidance is to help health professionals who need to take blood from someone with learning disabilities. It may also be of use to paid social care or health staff and family members when they are supporting someone to have a blood test. 

Under the Equalities Act 2010,1 public sector organisations have to make changes in their approach or provision to ensure that services are accessible to disabled people as well as everybody else. This report is the 14th in a series of reports looking at reasonable adjustments in a specific service area (see Appendix A). The aim of these reports is to share information, ideas and good practice in relation to the provision of reasonable adjustments. We searched for policy and guidelines that relate to people with learning disabilities needing blood tests. A summary of this information is below. We looked at websites to find resources that might be of use for people with learning disabilities who need a blood test but are very anxious about this. We put a request out through the UK Health and Learning Disability Network, a major email network for people interested in services and care for people with learning disabilities. We asked people to send us information about what they have done to support people with learning disabilities to have blood tests that they need. This report sets out what we found. Despite there being good reasons for many people with learning disabilities to be afraid of needles, such as past experiences of forcible administration of sedatives, there is little relevant research or policy. The report describes the online resources we found and where you can access them. This is followed by a selection of case studies and examples of reasonable adjustments made to support people with learning disabilities in tolerating blood tests. We had a very good response to our information request and as a result we have not been able to include all the examples of good practice that we were sent.