People with learning disabilities and autism are being provided with a Health Action Plan to help them keep track of their health and become more independent.
Primary Care Wirral’s (PCW) Learning Disability team have created a new Health Action Plan which includes all relevant information which both clinical and non-clinical staff require to ensure patient care is adapted to their needs.
Patients with learning disabilities and autism are encouraged to update their Health Action Plans, to include changes in their physical and mental wellbeing, and any actions they have taken to improve their health.
New tool for patients and Primary Care staff
The Health Action Plan has been designed with “the needs of people with learning disabilities and autism in mind”, said Suzanne Thomas, PCW Learning Disability Care Coordinator at Healthier South Wirral.
“There have been similar documents used in the past in Wirral, however we needed a more user-friendly tool to encourage patients to play an active role in managing their health.
“In order to achieve this, we used the feedback received from patients with learning disabilities to create a new document that is easy to read, engaging and allows for patients to easily input any relevant changes.
“It was important to adapt the service to the needs of our patients and to ensure the new tool also facilitated the work of the staff caring for them.
“With the new Health Action Plan, clinical and non-clinical staff can access all the information they need in one place, to deliver the most comfortable experience for our patients.”
Alongside details on the patient’s clinical history and health changes, the new document includes information regarding the most appropriate ways to communicate with them and how they could react in situations of distress or pain.
Patients are encouraged to take their Health Action Plans to all health appointments with GPs, nurses, dentists or any other medical appointments.
Contact details for main and secondary carers are also included in the document to ensure they can be quickly updated on relevant changes to the health of those in their care.
Fast adaptation during Covid-19
PCW’s Health & Wellbeing team has taken quick action to ensure patients with learning disabilities and autism receive the most appropriate care during the coronavirus pandemic.
Lucy Holmes, PCW Health & Wellbeing Operations Manager, has stressed that “many patients with learning disabilities have been isolating for the past few months.”
“The pandemic has highlighted the importance of patients taking charge of their own health.
“Through this, they can help us identify key health changes quickly so we can provide the best care as soon as possible.
“With a disproportionate number of people within this vulnerable group dying of Covid-19, ensuring patients with learning disabilities stay well is a priority for our federation and the Primary Care Networks (PCNs) and GP practices we work with.”
Learning Disability Care Coordinator Role
As part of the federation’s efforts, PCW has adapted the Care Coordinator PCN role established within the DES Contract, creating a new professional profile to focus on patients with learning disabilities.
Two local PCNs have expanded their cross-practice multidisciplinary teams with the addition of new Learning Disability Care Coordinators.
The role provides a link between people with learning disabilities and autism and healthcare staff, including GPs, nurses, HCAs, physiotherapists, Wellbeing Practitioners (Social Prescribing Link Workers) and Health Coaches.
With a background as Learning Disability Nurses, the new professionals can also offer advice around learning disabilities and autism communication, challenging behaviour, reasonable adjustments, diagnostic overshadowing and health inequalities.
PCW’s solution for Wirral PCNs
Two PCW Learning Disability Care Coordinators are currently working for Healthier South Wirral and Wallasey Wellbeing PCNs, however, the offer is open to any Wirral GP networks.
For more information about the service or any other Health & Wellbeing support programmes, please contact PCW Health & Wellbeing Operations Manager, Lucy Holmes, on [email protected].