Health & Social Care
A formal investigation in 2008 into the accessibility of health information in Northern Ireland for people with a learning disability was updated in 2013
The 2008 investigation identified that some healthcare professionals did not adjust their communication style for people with a learning disability. Other barriers to effective communication included attitude and levels of awareness as well as a lack of familiarity of the needs of people with a learning disability by health professionals.
Waiting times for an appointment and the actual length of appointments were also highlighted.
The investigation found that written information is generally not produced in an accessible format suitable for people with a learning disability.
We made a series of low-cost, practical recommendations. These included:
- the production of appropriate written information - addressing style, size, use of pictures and language issues
- communication training for health service practitioners
- the maintenance of comprehensive health records
- liaison with a Community Learning Disability Team
- use of Patient Liaison Nurses
- and the option of a passport system to help individuals with their communications needs
This investigation was updated in June 2013. Overall, there had been a good deal of progress and people with a learning disability have more opportunity to voice their opinions about services. A number of strategies are in place, but time will tell how effective these will be in practice.