by Lisa Wild

A visit to the GP or a hospital appointment can be daunting at the best of times, but if you struggle to understand what a procedure will feel like, aren’t able to read your appointment letters or don’t have enough time to talk through your concerns, it can be very distressing.

People with learning disabilities have a statutory right to an annual health check with their GP, but in 2016 / 17 less than 50% actually received one (NHS Digital). One of the biggest barriers to attending health appointments is that it can be very difficult to reduce anxieties in people who are fearful if they have little or no formal or family support.

We believe that everyone should have equal access to healthcare and we are funded by the North Tyneside Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) to support people with learning disabilities to look after themselves physically and emotionally. Last year we supported people to attend 147 separate appointments, which included GP visits, outpatient check-ups, hospital procedures, annual health checks and health screening appointments.

We provide workshop support for people on a range of health related issues such as dental care, podiatry and men’s and women’s health screenings. Our workshops are relaxed, interactive and designed to make everyone feel comfortable.

We are also passionate about ensuring that people who may have difficulties reading or understanding information are able to access easy read resources. In a recent Mencap survey of 500 adults with learning disabilities, 75% said their experience of going to hospital would have been improved if things were explained in a way that was easy to understand.

Over the past few months we have been working with Active North Tyneside to convert their entire Weight Worries 12 week programme into an easy read format.

We also recently supported people to attend an event organised by the Northern Cancer Alliance so they were able to provide feedback on their experience of cancer services and learn about the North Tyneside Cancer Plan. We took visual minutes at the event to ensure that the discussions were captured in an easy read format.

I’m really proud of the impact this work has on the people we support and their families. As GSK Impact Award runners up this year, we continue to learn about how organisations supporting vulnerable people can improve their health and well-being for good. We’ll be publishing more details about the impact of our work in the coming months.

If you would like to know more about our health and well-being work or would like to talk to us about easy read resources, please email or give us a call on 0191 2622261.