A recent study looking into the number of people with learning disabilities who attended their health checks stated that 40% of patients do not receive these vital health checks*.
However, 7 out of 10 patients in Cornwall with a learning disability do receive their health checks and Peninsula Community Health’s one of a kind Screening Liaison Nurses are working to engage with the remaining 30% of people to ensure they get the appropriate checks and screenings.
Health checks include screenings at services such as Breast, Cervical, Bowel, Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm and Retinopathy.
A lot of the time these vulnerable groups of people may have had a letter inviting them for a screening which they have not understood, or not understood the importance of screening. It’s the Screening Liaison Nurse’s job to work with GPs to try and identify patients with a learning disability who may have missed a screening or have one coming up.
Working to help patients with learning disabilities to understand what a screening is and why it’s important to attend appointments, the Screening Liaison Nurses work right across the healthcare system, from acute, to community services and GPs, to ensure vulnerable patients get a good service.
Samuel Edwards, Peninsula Community Health’s Primary Care Liaison Nurse for Adults with Learning Disabilities, commented:
“The annual learning disability GP health checks have gone from strength to strength in Cornwall. It is fantastic that nearly 7 out of 10 patients are now receiving their check. However, it’s important that we continue to try to engage with the other 30% of eligible people and that we also concentrate on the quality, as well as the quantity, of health checks completed. As a minimum, patients should be being offered a 30 minute comprehensive health check-up.
“We are very lucky to have a designated Learning Disability Screening Liaison Service in Cornwall. It is currently the only one of its kind in the country. People with learning disabilities have been shown to access screening services far less than the general population. This can lead to unmet needs and premature morbidity and mortality. Since being in post, our Screening Liaison Nurses have helped bring uptake in certain areas in line with the general population.”
Deborah Rees, a Screening Liaison Nurse from Peninsula Community Health, added:
“Our role is varied but we do whatever is needed to help the patient understand what their screening is for. Sometimes this means accompanying them to their screening; having home visits to discuss any worries they may have; showing examples of screening to the patient; role play with the patient and helping them to understand why their screening is important. We try really hard to banish any fears they may have about a screening before it happens.”
If you have a learning disability or know someone who does who might have a screening appointment coming up or could be due for one you can contact them for advice.
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