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RCN calls for more training to improve disabled care

The Royal College of Nursing (RCN) has called on the government to implement all the recommendations of an independent inquiry to improve the delivery of care for people with learning disabilities.

Sir Jonathan Michael's report Healthcare For All stopped short of demanding new laws to ensure equal access for patients with learning disabilities, but suggested that existing legislation, such as the Disability Discrimination Act, instead needed to be followed.

Dr Peter Carter, Chief Executive and General Secretary of the Royal College of Nursing, said: "The independent inquiry recommended that all healthcare staff undergo the necessary education and training to effectively care for people with learning disabilities.

"This would give all staff a greater understanding of the needs of this vulnerable group of people and their carers.

"It also recommended an annual health check of people with learning disabilities within the healthcare system to ensure support services and staff continue to deliver quality and dignified care.

"Learning disability nurses offer a central and pivotal role in delivering and maintaining best practice. The skills and expertise these specialist nurses possess is clearly essential to ensuring the healthcare system works for everyone, no matter their disability, environment, cultural or socioeconomic background.

"There is no single or simple solution. The RCN urges the government to adopt all recommendations of the Independent Inquiry to ensure the delivery of high quality services and dignified care to people with learning disabilities."


Related story: Patients with learning disabilities face "avoidable suffering"

Your comments: (Terms and conditions apply)

"Yes, yes, yes. My experiences as a specialist school nurse for transition of young people with disabilities into adult healthcare have shown me time and again the shortcomings within health services. For me, the key issue is for other health professionals to understand how to communicate with people with disabilities using a variety of methods including those originating from the patient themselves. Each person has a unique way of transmitting information about themselves and their environment, including the use of so-called challenging behaviour. With a little time and understanding challenging incidences can often be diffused by acknowleding that it is a reactionary behaviour due to something the patient finds unacceptable. I would advocate that all health staff are trained and that the usage of tools such as communication passports and health action plans form part of that training" - Stephanie Fricker, Brent