NHS Logo
As One Logo

Learning Disability Week: how HPFT supports people with learning disabilities

16 Jun 23

This week is Learning Disability Week (19-25 June). This year’s theme is to raise awareness about what it is like to live with a learning disability and show what people with a learning disability can achieve, changing misconceptions about what people can do and highlighting the stigma many still face every day.

James is supported by our Learning Disability Specialist Health Services.


What is a learning disability?

According to learning disability charity Mencap, who organise Learning Disability Week, a learning disability is a reduced intellectual ability and difficulty with everyday activities. For example, household tasks, socialising or managing money – which affects someone for their whole life.

People with a learning disability tend to take longer to learn and may need support to develop new skills, understand complicated information and interact with other people. 

How does HPFT support people with learning disabilities?

HPFT provides specialist health services for people with learning disability across four counties: Buckinghamshire; Hertfordshire; Norfolk; and Essex. The Trust works closely with local authorities, primary healthcare, acute hospitals and other partners to help address the specific needs and priorities of people with learning disabilities.

This approach means that we make healthcare services more accessible to people with learning disabilities. Examples include providing reasonable adjustments such as easy-to-read information, communication aids, longer appointment times, and staff training on how to support individuals with learning disabilities.

People with learning disabilities are twice as likely to experience low self-esteem and self-confidence, social exclusion, and bullying that others don’t face, leading to mental health issues. It is recognised that there is a higher prevalence of mental health issues among people with learning disabilities. HPFT aims to improve access to mental health services by providing appropriate assessments, therapies, and interventions to address the specific mental health needs of individuals with learning disabilities.

The care for people with learning disabilities is centred around the needs of the individual and this involves including individuals and their families in decision-making, ensuring their preferences and needs are considered, and facilitating integrated care across different healthcare providers.

HPFT also works to enhance the training and awareness of healthcare professionals, providing education on the specific needs and challenges faced by individuals with learning disabilities, promoting positive attitudes, and improving the skills and knowledge of healthcare staff to provide high-quality, person-centred care.

Annual health checks

It is important that people with learning disabilities receive their annual health checks. These checks aim to identify any health issues, provide preventive care, and ensure that individuals receive appropriate support for their physical and mental well-being.

LeDer (mortality reviews of people with learning disability) has highlighted the health inequalities for people with a learning disability and that people with learning disability have a life expectancy, on average, more than 20 years younger than the general population.

Supporting people’s physical health is a high priority for HPFT and the Trust has developed and implemented enhanced physical health clinics and health coordination to improve physical health outcomes for service users.

To read more about our learning disability services, please visit: Learning Disability Services (hpft.nhs.uk)

Contact Us