John’s Story

“If you have a learning disability and you know you are going into hospital, make sure you organise a Hospital Passport before you go in.”

“Fantastic and very happy,” is how John Keaveny describes how he feels about his work as a training consultant for Treat Me Right!

Treat Me Right! is a project run by Certitude to improve the experience for people with learning disabilities while they are in hospital. John is able to draw on his own hospital experience to help train medical staff thoughout Ealing Hospital.

John has Down’s Syndrome and few years ago he collapsed at home and was rushed into hospital with breathing difficulties. He remained in hospital for a total of four weeks and found the experience difficult and confusing.

He is not the only adult with a learning disability to find the hospital process a stressful one. Treat Me Right! was developed in response to Mencap’s Death by Indifference*report which investigated the deaths of six people in hospital because they had learning disabilities.

Now John regularly talks to groups of doctors, surgeons, anaesthetists, nurses, student nurses, midwives and junior doctors about how they can improve their treatment of people with learning disabilities.

As part of Treat Me Right! John works with Elsa and together they run up to four Learning Disability Awareness courses at the hospital each month. Elsa explains about the new procedures implemented by Treat Me Right! and then John describes his own experience in hospital. The medical staff can then ask both of them questions and get advice.

There are fifteen to twenty people in each group and they are often highly trained medical practitioners, but John is not intimidated by such an audience.

“I really enjoy standing up in front of people and talking – it doesn’t make me nervous at all.  I like being part of a team.  I think it’s important for doctors and nurses to have a better understanding of people with learning disabilities. My experience means I can tell people exactly how I felt. They can learn from that. I’m proud of what I do and I’m glad that I can help other people.”

The positive impact of John’s work is clear; in the last 12 months there hasn’t been a single complaint to Ealing hospital from anyone with a learning disability.

* Mencap’s Death by Indifference report