Improving cancer services

Jo Mackintosh works for the NHS as a project manager with the Northern Cancer Alliance. It is through her job that she met Kirsty Douglas, an amazing woman who does not let her learning disability stop her from selflessly improving the lives of those around her.

Jo said: “I nominated Kirsty as she deserves recognition for the vast amount of work she has been involved in to make a difference to the health experiences of people with a learning disability.”

Kirsty Changing communities LDA Leaders' List 2018
“Kirsty is always willing to make a difference.”

“Kirsty is always willing to get involved to make a difference. She is particularly interested in improving cancer outcomes for people with a learning disability and has played an important role in a number of projects relating to cancer.

“This lady is a fantastic role model for her peers, working tirelessly to improve the health experiences of others.”

“Kirsty overcomes her own anxieties and routinely puts herself into situations that many people would find difficult.

“For example: meetings consisting of health professionals and members of the public, public speaking, travelling away from home for work on national projects and making videos about the work she is involved in.

“Kirsty does not let any of her personal challenges divert her attention from her aim of informing her peers about issues relating to cancer, improving services and listening to the experience of others.

“The contribution Kirsty has to all the projects she has been involved in has been invaluable.”

Kirsty Douglas is a member of Gateshead People; a self-advocacy group for people with a learning disability in Gateshead.

Below are some of the fantastic pieces of work that Kirsty has been involved with:

  • Development of Best Practice Guidelines to ensure effective engagement of people with learning disabilities, families and carers.
  • Presenting at the ‘working together to improve cancer services and experiences for people with a learning disability’ North East Learning Disability Network Conference in November 2017.
  • Northern Cancer Alliance Public Involvement Framework project steering group (of which she is the only member with a learning disability and still has the confidence and drive to attend meetings). This has involved helping the steering group to produce easy read material and holding engagement activities with community groups.
  • Involvement in partnership with Public Health England to review and develop their screening and immunisations materials in easy read formats.
  • Involvement in the development of a peer cancer education programme for people with learning disabilities.

Kirsty said: “I’ve worked with Jo by helping to create the cancer alliance plan to get people involved and have their say on the care and treatment they are having.

“I want to make a change for people with disabilities to have their own opinion and have their voice heard and listened to.”