Quality of life measures show improvements for people with complex needs leaving hospital


National policy in England has seen people with learning disabilities who were once residents of long stay hospitals move into community services. There have been many evaluations of these moves, locally and nationally.

The authors of this study were interested in measurable factors such as quality of life and mortality. They looked at 521 adults with learning disabilities and complex health problems who had moved from a long-stay hospital into community services including supported living, group homes, or nursing homes

They used the ‘Questionnaire on Quality of Life’ to measure quality of life at baseline, which was at 6 months prior to moving, at 6 months and 1 year after the move. Mortality and causes of death were investigated in those who died within 2 years of relocation.

They found that quality of life improved between baseline and 6 months follow-up but leveled off at 1 year follow-up. Three of the people who moved died during the first 2 years of moving to the community. The authors point out that they all had complex health problems and two died as a result of complications associated with seizures.

The authors suggest that their findings support the need for continued careful planning when relocating people with complex health problems, irrespective of whether they are moving from long stay hospital accommodation or other situations. They suggest that their findings might suggest that adults with learning disabilities and epilepsy may be particularly vulnerable and may require particular attention.

Assessing Quality of Life and Mortality in Adults With Intellectual Disability and Complex Health Problems Following Move From a Long-Stay Hospital, Bhaumik, S et al., in Journal of Policy and Practice in Intellectual Disabilities, 8: 183–190

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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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