Let’s help the healthcare profession respect people with learning disabilities

John Keaveny is passionate about improving patient care for people with learning disabilities.

He is a co-founder of Certitude’s Treat Me Right! programme, training health and social care professionals in learning disability awareness, and was recently awarded a place on the National Learning Disabilities and Autism Leaders List 2018.

The Leaders List recognises people with learning disabilities who have helped make a difference. The Government is currently consulting on whether learning disability and autism awareness training should be mandatory all healthcare professionals and John has identified changes he would like to see happen to improve healthcare for more people with learning disabilities.

“I believe that every single person with a learning disability or autism deserves to live a long, happy and healthy life but at the moment people with learning disabilities die so much earlier that the rest of the population, of preventable conditions. These are the top ten things I would like to see change:

  1. EVERYONE who works in a healthcare setting – from receptionists to consultants, security guards to surgeons – should know about learning disabilities and autism.
  2. They should receive training co-delivered by people with learning disabilities and/or autism because we can tell them what it feels like. 
  3. All hospitals, GP surgeries and dentist reception areas should have ‘Easy Read’ information available.
  4. Everyone with learning disabilities should have their medication reviewed regularly and access to ‘Easy Read” information about it so that they can be better informed about the side effects.
  5. People with learning disabilities should be offered a Health Passport so that healthcare staff can have a better understanding of their needs.
  6. We should give more support to people with learning disabilities who find having medical tests difficult so that these appointments don’t turn into a crisis  situation.
  7. Staff in medical services should understand about conditions associated with certain types of learning disability, such as Down’s syndrome and Dementia. 
  8. We should share and learn from what happened to Oliver McGowan, Richard Handley, Connor Sparrowhawk and many others. They died because their needs weren’t met, We need to make sure this stops happening.
  9. We should also share more success stories about how the health profession has successfully made reasonable adjustments for people with learning disabilities.
  10. People with learning disabilities should be involved in making decisions about laws and NHS policies which might affect them.