#MyGPandMe is addressing the fact that people with learning disabilities are dying from issues that may otherwise have been prevented with primary health care.
Research shows that people with learning disabilities are five times more likely to end up in hospital for preventable issues that can be treated by their GP (EHRC).
It is also reported that men with learning disabilities live 23 years less than the general population, and women with learning disabilities live up to 29 years less (hqip.uk).
Our research shows that many people experience difficulties accessing timely and effective care. Some areas in particular require urgent attention.
People are dying from constipation
Causes of constipation include poor diet, dehydration, stress, lack of exercise, some medications, lack of monitoring of bowel health and some physical conditions. Many of these are commonly experienced by people with learning disabilities. If left uncured severe constipation can cause death.
Overmedication is ruining people’s quality of life
Overuse of psychotropic medication can also result in other issues such as constipation, weight gain and organ failure.
Dimensions is actively reducing psychotropic prescriptions for the people we support. We’re signed up to the STOMP programme – we want to see more being done to reduce overmedication nationally.
People are missing out on crucial cancer screenings
National cancer screening programmes are crucial to identify cancers early and give people the best chance of survival. Developing knowledge and understanding of your body is important to spot changes. This can be more difficult for people with learning disabilities or autism, and support workers play a part.
Some screenings and tests can be invasive or cause extreme anxiety for people. This can change with some reasonable adjustments, such as considering less intrusive tests and taking extra time to explain them. Sometimes it can take months to help a person prepare for the procedure.
Joint working between GP surgery staff, support teams and patients is integral to this.