Occupational Therapists gather feedback from people with learning disabilities but do little to reduce potential bias

Without each of us raising our voices, agitating, demanding and complaining, nothing much more will happen to reduce premature deaths in people with learning disabilities

Getting feedback about interventions from people with learning disabilities involves a number of challenges, including of course communication difficulties The researchers in this study were interested in how occupational therapists (OT’s) gathered feedback from people who used their services.

They looked at this by asking 70 OT’s to complete a questionnaire and a subset of 12 of the respondents were also invited to take part in semi-structured interviews.

The researchers suggest from their reading of the responses that OT’s were ‘passionate about service user feedback’, but that informal methods were used rather than established methods with a robust evidence base.

Almost half the respondents did not take measures to reduce the potential for bias when gathering feedback, which the authors suggest may be the result of service pressures, lack of confidence and the complexity of service users’ needs.

The authors conclude that whilst there is a good deal of activity in gatering feedback, that this is currently too unstructrured, not evidence-based and over reliant on informal methods that do nothing to minimise bias. They suugest that “ Occupational therapists need to do more to gain feedback from people with learning disabilities

Gaining feedback from people with learning disabilities, Ball J & Shanks A, in The British Journal of Occupational Therapy, 75,  10, 471-477


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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, 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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