Access to Health Care for People with Learning Disabilities

Topics: Health care, Educational psychology, Health care provider Pages: 8 (3678 words) Published: August 13, 2013
Health and social care services should be readily available to everyone within the UK, although people with learning disabilities may find access to such services extremely difficult, even in today’s society. This assignment looks at the issues surrounding access to health care services and aims to address the differences between health education and health promotion. It also highlights the legislation around health and social care and the importance for nurses to understand the inequalities in provision. Further to this, the assignment will discuss definitions of learning disabilities and the availability for sufferers to access health care services. The topics to be discussed in this essay will be reflected in a case study of a patient with learning difficulties. In order to comply with the Nursing and Midwifery council Code of Conduct (NMC, 2008), the patient’s name has been changed to Ann to maintain confidentiality. The case study is a female called Ann who is 23 years old. She is considered to have a learning disability. Ann has a condition called Down’s syndrome which affects her ability to learn. As a result of her Down Syndrome Ann has a moderate hearing loss and wears bilateral hearing aids. Ann lives with her elderly parents who are devoted Christians, they are on a low household income due to being retired. Ann is striving for greater independence. Twice a week Ann attends a group for people with learning difficulties which aims to develop practical and social skills. According to Gates 2004, it is hard to determine what a learning Disability is, as everybody has their own interpretation. There are 1.5 million people in the United Kingdom who have been classed as having a learning disability (Mencap, 2009). A learning disability is something you are born with or caused during birth or from a serious illness during childhood. A learning disability affects a person’s ability to learn during childhood and beyond. The department of health (DOH, 2001) describe a learning disability as an impaired intelligence which reduces the ability to understand new or complex information, to learn new skills, with an impaired social functioning which reduces their ability to cope independently. However this does not give set guide lines for who does or does not have a learning disability. The department of health (2001) cited in the British Institute of Learning Disabilities (2004) went on to try and add more rigid guidelines; they use a four tier system. They have been defined as mild, moderate, severe and profound. They have determined these categories by using an IQ test. This brings its own problems as a person with learning disability will often have abilities that do not show up on an IQ test, which leads to them being put into the wrong category. The majority of people with only a mild or moderate learning disability will often be able to lead quite “normal” lives; they may be able to live independently but with minimal support. A person with a sevre or profound learning disability will need 24 hour support they will need help with everyday activities, such as eating. drinking, getting changed and going out. Ann’s learning difficulty has been classed as mild and her down’s syndrome has an impact on this. Macnair and Hicks (2010) describes Down’s syndrome as ‘a genetic condition, where a person inherits an extra copy of chromosome 21.  According to Nemours 2010 this extra chromosome causes problems in the way the child develops. It often takes the child longer to reach certain milestones and to develop certain skills. It has been established that there are more health risks for people with learning disabilities, many of them can be expected to have the same life expectancy as the rest of the population, apart from people with Down’s syndrome (Kerr, 2007).  However Kerr, 2007 has found in the last fifty years people with Down’s syndrome are living longer. Thompson and Mathias 1998 have suggested that 44% of...

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