The Mencap report 'Treat Me Right' suggests that people with a learning disability do not always get the help they need from the National Health Service. I talked with my son, who has a learning disability, about whether he had got the help he needed. He thinks he has had some good help. He has a GP who listens and gives him a yearly health check. But sometimes there have been problems. I will describe some of the problems.
Being sent from one service to another because of having a learning disability (and not getting any help from either).
This happened because there are two separate services to help with mental health problems, a general community service, and another service for people with a learning disability.
Symptoms of physical problems have not always been looked at properly. The diagnosis of learning disability can get in the way. Doctors may assume any symptoms are caused by the learning disability and not look for other causes.
Not always getting the same level of service as people who do not have a learning disability. If there are two separate services, the one for people with a learning disability may not offer help on the same basis or have the same amount of money.
It has sometimes seemed he had to make extra efforts to get help because of having a learning disability. This seemed to be the case with speech therapy when he was a child.
Diagnosis means identifying the nature of a difficulty. It should help people to get the right treatment. But a diagnosis of learning disability is sometimes given as a reason for refusing treatment. Having separate services can encourage this. Do we need a more unified health system? And how can we get the kind of diagnosis that helps to get treatment, not the kind that divides people into categories?
If you woud like to get in touch with the Social History of Learning Disability (SHLD) Research Group, please contact:
Chair of the Social History of Learning Disability (SHLD) Research Group
School of Health, Wellbeing and Social Care
Faculty of Wellbeing, Education and Language Studies
The Open University
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