A new online 4-part training programme will help Primary Care staff understand how to deliver excellent care for people with a learning disability.
The ‘Health Equality for People with a Learning Disability in Primary Care’ course is open free of charge to all primary care staff in Wirral, including reception/admin staff, clinicians, nurses, practice managers and other additional roles (i.e. Social Prescribing Link Workers, Care Coordinators, etc.).
The course will also count towards General Practice staff annual Continuous Professional Development (CDP) requirements.
Co-created with patients with a learning disability
The course has been co-created with Wirral Mencap’s ‘Make it Better’ group, a co-production and steering group made up of people with a learning disability, parents and carers.
“We are determined to keep improving and developing services, and campaigning for improvements across the board for people with a learning disability”, said Lizzie Carline, Wirral Mencap Development Manager.
“Nobody can help us understand the barriers people with a learning disability experience when they visit their practices better than the patients themselves and their parents and carers.
“During weekly sessions they have highlighted the problems they regularly experience in clinical settings, and contributed great insight and recommendations.
“Participants from the ‘Make it Better’ group have not only defined the main topics that should be covered in this course, but they have also recorded role play scenarios and interviews explaining their experiences and concerns.”
Reducing inequalities for people with a learning disability
The Learning Disability training programme for Primary Care staff is aimed at helping healthcare organisations improving equality and equity, empowering staff and encouraging collaboration with the community to eradicate barriers.
This has become particularly important for healthcare providers, as “one of the things that Covid has really shown us is significant health inequalities, not only regionally, not only nationally, but here in the Wirral in our borough of Wirral”, said Dr. Paula Cowan, GP at Eastham Group Practice and Chair of the NHS Wirral Clinical Commissioning Group.
“The areas of inequalities are highlighted through Covid-19 and particularly around learning disabilities, as people with learning disabilities are six times more likely to have an adverse health outcome from Covid.
“It is really crucial now that we learn from the experience and one of the areas is around educating.
“Not only ourselves as healthcare providers, but also our Allied Healthcare Professionals and our ancillary staff, so that they can understand what learning disabilities are and how that differs from other learning difficulties from the Autistic Spectrum Disorder, from a variety of other conditions.”
Personalisation and reasonable adjustments
The course seeks to increase staff understanding of learning disabilities, as well as offering practical guidance on how to personalise healthcare services and implement reasonable adjustments, including double appointments, avoiding medical jargon, using easy-read documents, etc.
By being able to understand the barriers people with a learning disability experience in clinical settings, “we can put in mitigations, support and education not only for us as healthcare staff, but also for everybody”, said Dr. Cowan.
“I cannot advocate enough for personalisation; it is absolutely crucial as we go forward and really important to have adjustments in place and to have that personalisation.
“This includes ensuring that people have to tell their story only once and not have to repeat it time and time again in whatever health or care setting to which they attend”.
The ‘Health Equality for People with a Learning Disability in Primary Care’ programme is divided in four interactive session where the challenges that people with a learning disability face in primary care will be explored through patient testimonies and role plays based in real-live scenarios.
Module number one, ‘Aligning our view of learning disability’, will be aimed at improving the understanding of what a learning disability is, and how to identify people with a learning disability.
Module two, ‘Why do people with a learning disability miss out?’, explores health inequalities and how inaccessible healthcare services impact on the lives of people with a learning disability.
Module three, ‘Creating personalised access and support‘, provides a more practical angle, including ways healthcare providers can adapt their offer to support and empower people with a learning disability.
And module four, ‘Wirral Primary Care and Community – making the most of it’, expands practical advice and guidance on diagnosis, annual health checks, referrals (including Social Prescribing) and other learning disability services.
The programme is split into four one-hour long modules, with one session delivered each week, and can be booked via Eventbrite before Monday 12th of April.
The course will be delivered twice, with the first training programme starting on Monday 12th of April at 2pm and the second starting on Thursday 15th of April at 7pm.
Participants will need to individually booked the subsequent training sessions and will be able to choose the time that is most convenient to them from the two available options.