My name is Glenn and I am a registered nurse for people with learning disabilities (RNLD) and an academic at University of Sunderland. I am also a member of the Royal College of Nursing Learning Disability Steering Group.
I have been a RNLD since January 2009 and have primarily worked in forensic services until I decided to work in nurse education in May 2018. However, a little known fact I used to work for Mencap as a support worker in their supported living services.
I am delighted to be hosting this Forum thread to mark Learning Disability Week 2018.
Reasonable adjustments seems to be the new phrase that is floating around in political circles and the answer to news of premature mortality, increasing health inequalities and access to appropriate health services. We have now had countless reports highlighting the scale of the problems people with learning disabilities face and the same old promises and recommendations to resolve these issues time and time again.
However, how can we reasonably expect health professionals to know what adjustments can be made or even how to make them when they have limited understanding of the impact of a learning disability on the individual? The lack of mandatory training around learning disability awareness is astonishing and if not addressed as a matter of urgency. There is also crisis in learning disability nursing with numbers falling and leaves the question to be answered ‘which health professional will take over from learning disability nurses when they are gone?’
Reasonable adjustments don’t need to be huge and even the smallest of alterations can result in a significant difference. Having quiet or private areas in GP Surgery waiting rooms, access to learning disability liaison nurses in all hospitals or even a simple introduction from a health professional can make a daunting experience into a truly remarkable one.
Also it is important to remember people with learning disabilities have the right to make decisions about their healthcare, even if it is one we don’t necessarily agree with. What we have to be mindful of is the person may need support to understand the complexity of a situation and make an informed decision about their health.
I am happy to answer questions on what could be viewed as a reasonable adjustment but won’t be able to comment on specific cases.