People with learning disabilities identified ‘others’ as being responsible for making their healthcare choices.

Health information

Two groups of individuals with a learning disability: (1: irregular attenders) people who had opted out of healthcare appointments for avoidable reasons and (2: regular attenders) people attending all appointments or when not attending, did so for unavoidable reasons.

The study authors carried out a  series of interviews with four people with learning disabilities and 13 primary carers and ran a focus group for physiotherapy staff.

The people with disabilities generally identified ‘others’ as being responsible for making their healthcare choices and the authors conclude that more work on understanding healthcare expectations and experiences of people with learning disabilities, carers and healthcare staff needs to be done if people with learning disabilities are to become active healthcare decision-makers.

Inclusion and healthcare choices: the experiences of adults with learning disabilities, Ferguson, M. et al., in British Journal of Learning Disabilities, 39: 73–83.

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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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