CONTINUING PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT
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Improving communication for people with learning disabilities NS336 Godsell M, Scarborough K (2006) Improving communication for people with learning disabilities. Nursing Standard. 20, 30, 58-65. Date of acceptance: February 6 2006.
Patients with learning disabilities have higher healthcare risks than the general population. Health professionals need to develop skills that enable them to communicate effectively with this patient group. Identifying barriers to communication is the first step to reducing or removing them. Suggested strategies to improve healthcare access for patients with learning disabilities include: developing individualised health action plans, simplifying communication styles and providing accessible facilities and tailored resources.
learning activities you should be able to: Understand the impact of communication on interaction between healthcare providers and patients with learning disabilities. Describe the relationship between communication and the health inequalities experienced by people with learning disabilities. Identify strategies to improve communication between health providers and patients with learning disabilities.
Matthew Godsell and Kim Scarborough are senior lecturers, Faculty of Health and Social Care, University of the West of England, Bristol. Email: Matthew.Godsell@uwe.ac.uk
Learning disability is not a diagnosis but a term used to describe people with a wide range of strengths and needs. Eighty per cent of children and 60 per cent of adults with learning disabilities live with their families (Gravestock and Bouras 1997), and many people with learning disabilities exceed the expectations of families and professionals in their capacity to learn new skills and develop their talents (NHS Executive 1999). The term ‘learning disability’ says little about an individual’s strengths and needs but it does incorporate three elements that appear in most definitions (Box 1). Emerson et al (2001) state that the number of people with learning disabilities in the UK has not been determined. They estimate that in the UK there could be as many as 350,000 people with severe learning disabilities (intelligence quotient (IQ) 50). This means that 2 per cent of patients are likely to have a learning disability (NHS Executive 1999). The ways in which people with learning disabilities are described have changed. Terminology and related facts are listed in Box 2. NURSING STANDARD
Communication; Learning disabilities nursing: attitudes These keywords are based on the subject headings from the British Nursing Index. This article has been subject to double-blind review. For related articles and author guidelines visit our online archive at www.nursing-standard.co.uk and search using the keywords.
Aims and intended learning outcomes
The aim of this article is to explore the impact of communication on health care for people with learning disabilities. The article discusses how cognition and communication influence interactions between healthcare providers and patients. It also examines how poor communication can contribute to health inequalities that separate people with learning disabilities from the rest of the population. The article explores communication strategies that can overcome or reduce barriers to effective health care. After reading this article and completing the 58 april 5 :: vol 20 no 30 :: 2006
Time out 1
Based on a figure of 2 per cent of patients having learning disabilities, it is likely that 40 per 2,000 patients registered with GP services are likely to have learning disabilities. How many patients with learning disabilities...