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30 May 2024

Learning disability awareness with Mencap: making the right accommodations

Learning disability awareness with Mencap: making the right accommodations

It is widely known that most people with a learning disability will have worse physical health than people without a learning disability, along with a significantly reduced life expectancy.  

As we approach Learning Disability Week, a week-long campaign beginning 17 June championed by Mencap (a UK charity for people with learning disabilities), it is important to focus on challenging the barriers faced everyday by people with learning disabilities. We would like to draw particularly within healthcare settings, and how therapists can help to tackle these within their roles.  

Knowing how to make appropriate accommodations for individuals with learning disabilities is an important first step to providing inclusive care. There are a number of resources available to help you ensure that your clinic and services are accessible, effective, and tailored to the unique needs of these individuals.  

Mencap have a wide range of resources available on their website, outlining important skills and suggestions for accommodations that can and should be made.  

  • Clear and simple communication is essential. Professionals should use straightforward language and avoid making assumptions about understanding. Providing information in Easy Read formats, which use simple words and pictures, can help patients better understand their healthcare information.  

  • Taking extra time during consultations can significantly improve communication and comprehension. Involving supporters, such as family members or carers, can be crucial, especially for those with profound and multiple learning disabilities. These supporters can help facilitate understanding and decision-making, though it is important to address the patient directly whenever possible. 

  • Flexible scheduling is another important accommodation. Appointments should be arranged at quieter times, like the beginning or end of the day, to reduce stress and distractions. 

  • Ensuring physical accessibility within healthcare settings is also vital, including clear signage and removing physical barriers for those with mobility issues. Providing a quiet space to wait can help reduce anxiety and prevent patients from feeling overwhelmed in busy environments. 

  • Regular training on learning disabilities and awareness of specific conditions is essential for all healthcare staff to ensure they are well-equipped to provide appropriate care. 

By implementing these strategies recommended by Mencap, manual therapists can provide more inclusive, high-quality, and effective care for individuals with learning disabilities, ensuring they receive the support they need to achieve their therapeutic goals. 

Learning Disability Week  

Learning Disability Week runs each year on the third week of June. This year’s theme “Do you see me?” will focus on challenging the barriers faced everyday by people with learning disabilities and how our society can help to tackle these.  

To get involved, you can: 

  • Start a conversation and talk about the incredible things people with learning disabilities are doing within your community. 

  • Use social media to spread aware of Learning Disability Week and get others involved. 

  • Donate to Mencap as part of the campaign and support people with learning disabilities to live healthy, happy lives. 

For more ideas on how you and your organisation can get involved, visit the Mencap website: https://www.mencap.org.uk/learningdisabilityweek  

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