Improved hospital visits for people with learning disabilities


A unique new project is underway at Calderdale Royal hospital and Huddersfield Royal Infirmary which aims to ensure that people with learning disabilities receive the best possible treatment and care when they go to hospital.

After talking with staff, patients and carers, South West Yorkshire Mental Health NHS Trust (SWYMHT) and Calderdale and Huddersfield NHS Trust produced a report that outlined all the key issues and recommendations for improving hospital stays for people with a learning disability.

Over 40 recommendations were made in the report including: • Providing training for all staff who have contact with people with learning disabilities, including volunteers • Where possible recruit people with a learning disability to deliver some of the training • Developing a ‘hospital book’ that patients can bring in containing information about their needs • Developing tools to help patients and staff communicate with each other

The recommendations are now being implemented, with staff in A and E departments at both hospitals being given training to increase their awareness of learning disabilities.

Project worker Heather Pearson says, "We’re working towards having specialist link workers in each department who will become champions for all learning disabled patients. They’ll have the expertise necessary to facilitate all the recommendations and changes made. The aim is to make staff more aware of the needs of people with learning disability and to give them the confidence to be able to treat them."

Chief executive of SWYMHT Judith Young says, "It is crucial that people with learning disabilities can get fair and equal access to acute medical services. Sometimes this is about having the right services and support; sometimes it is about changing over way of thinking about people. This project is giving us a way to make a positive difference. This is work we can extend to other groups of people who may be vulnerable as well as to access for people with learning disabilities to GPs and Dentists and other community services."

Summaries of the report are available including an accessible version for people with learning disabilities. For either version contact Heather on 01422 22482, email:

Improved hospital visits for people with learning disabilities

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