New charter for social care organisations to tackle health inequalities for people with learning disabilities


Last year, we posted a guest blog by Pauline Heslop, a researcher at the Norah Fry Research Centre, who set out the alarming findings of a confidential enquiry into premature deaths of people with learning disabilities. The enquiry found that people with learning disabilities die significantly younger in England and Wales than people without learning disabilities. In fact, people with learning disabilities are two and a half times more likely to die before the age of 50. Now, a new charter has been launched which aims to tackle health inequalities faced by people with learning disabilities.

‘The Health Charter for Providers Supporting People with Learning Disabilities’ has been devised in by the Voluntary Organisations Disability Group (VODG) and the Learning Disabilities Public Health Observatory, in partnership with the National Development Team for Inclusion, The National Care Forum and Mencap.

Organisations supporting people with learning disabilities are urged to sign up to the charter, which will commit them to a range of actions aimed at improving health outcomes for people, including

  • Ensuring staff understand and apply the principles of the mental capacity act
  • Listening to, respecting and involving family carers
  • Providing staff training on basic health and wellbeing issues
  • Providing accessible information on health and wellbeing
  • Promoting access to screening and ensuring everybody gets an annual health check.

To help organisations get started, there is a self assessment tool which will help to identify local priorities and guidance has been prepared for both providers and commissioners on the key issues.

Visit the charter website here.

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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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