Swindon's hospital is raising awareness about learning disabilities
5:31pm Wednesday 21st August 2013 in Latest News
THE Great Western Hospital is raising awareness about learning disabilities as part of Mencap’s national Learning Disability Week.
As well as manning an information stand for patients in the atrium all week, staff are also refreshing their knowledge of learning disabilities by taking part in a quiz based on recently updated hospital guidelines.
The GWH has a number of systems in place to support patients who have learning disabilities, including a My Health In Hospital booklet which patients and their carers are encouraged to fill in before they arrive at the hospital.
Wendy Johnson, the interim matron for unscheduled care, and Rachel Cross, the academy training manager, who also sit on the Learning Disability Forum at the hospital are both mothers of children with autism spectrum conditions.
Rachel said: “People with learning difficulties are some of the most vulnerable who come into the hospital.
“We need to know how they communicate things, how they tell us they are in pain, if they’ve got sounds they make rather than speaking. It’s better for us to know that.
“We don’t want to assume things, some people may really need a side room and others may feel isolated.”
Wendy said: “It comes from the understanding that to be treated equally sometimes we have to be treated differently.
“Ideally patients fill out the booklet before they come into the hospital. It’s getting that information you’re not going to get anywhere else so you can make reasonable adjustments for them.
“What they like and don’t like, if there is anything that we can do to make their time here more comfortable.
“Or perhaps someone giggles when they are in pain. If we didn’t know that we wouldn’t know they were in pain but maybe assume they were happy.”
On one occasion staff arranged a patient’s treatment around the television programmes he needed to watch.
Wendy said: “After we made the adjustments we found it was the first time he had been in hospital and had a positive experience.”
Another system the hospital has in place to support people with learning disabilities is an alert to staff.
Wendy said: “When people with learning disabilities come in we have a system which, if they have capacity and can give consent, will alert staff to their disability. It means that the people who need to know about it do so and are able to care for them better.”
If you are the carer of, or a patient at the GWH with learning disabilities and would like to get in touch with the forum, write to: The Learning Disability Forum, Great Western Hospital, Marlborough Road, Swindon SN3 6BB or call 01793 522156.