Collaborative working across Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland (LLR) has led to a huge increase in the number of people with learning disabilities receiving their annual health checks over the last year. LLR is now second in the whole of the Midlands (and in the top ten in England) in terms of the number of annual health checks completed. Two years ago, LLR was one of the lowest performing areas in the country.
People who have not had their annual health check are being encouraged to arrange theirs as soon as possible. Health checks are absolutely vital to help ensure people with learning disabilities are receiving the care they need and problems are found early so they can be sorted out. LLR is also second in the Midlands for the number of Health Action Plans completed. And in a recent case study from NHS England, the region is now in the top-third for performance in the country for supporting people with learning disabilities, achieving all targets set.
Primary Care Liaison Nurses (PCLNs) at Leicestershire Partnership NHS Trust (LPT), offer regular support and training on annual health checks for primary care and social care partners – including GP practices – to improve access to health care and reduce health inequalities for people with a learning disability.
Some of the measures taken at a number of LLR GP practices to increase the number and quality of Annual Health Checks include:
- encouraging the same GP and nurse to complete the health check. And by involving admin staff, they can build a relationship and understand each person’s needs around appointments and how they communicate;
- having a good knowledge of their patients – providing more time for patients who are known to find appointments a challenge and offering flexible home visits when needed;
- providing information in easy-read, colourful and pictorial format, to put the patient at ease and prepare them for their upcoming health check;
- reminding patients/carers the day before appointments by telephone and extra reminders for those who often miss appointments; and
- completing health checks throughout the year, rather than at the end of the year.
David Williams, director of strategy and partnerships, at LPT, said: “I am proud to see the great progress we have made for our communities in LLR. Annual health checks make a big difference in helping people live healthier lives for longer.”
As part of this week’s Learning Disability Week (19 – 25 June), people with a learning disability, who are aged 14 or over, are being encouraged to attend their annual health check. They often take place in GP practices and last around 45 minutes.
Rebecca Eccles, health equity lead for the Learning Disability and Autism Collaborative for LLR, said:
“Working collaboratively together has transformed healthcare for people with learning disabilities. It’s really encouraging to see the results of our hard work and we’re delighted that more people are coming forward for their annual health checks.
“If you find it difficult to get to a GP practice or if you’re worried about the appointment, please do contact someone at your GP practice so that they can do their best to support you. This can include having a relative, friend, carer or support worker with you to help you communicate your needs. It’s important to let your GP practice know what reasonable adjustments you need so they can place it as an alert on your clinical records so other health professionals are aware.”
To enable more people to access a health check, LPT are currently running a pilot programme for patients who have not had a health check in two years (or more) or who require additional reasonable adjustments to participate in their health check.