Staff from all corners of the Great Western Hospital in Swindon have come together to mark the first ever Learning Disability Awareness Week.
Organised by the hospital’s Learning Disability Team, the week is a unique opportunity for both clinical and non-clinical staff to gain a wider understanding of the needs of people with learning disabilities and to encourage others to change the way they look at those affected by disability.
People with learning disabilities can often spend long periods of time in hospital and it’s important that all staff are fully aware of how to look after these people in the most appropriate and caring way.
“Not a one size fits all approach”
Wendy Johnson, Learning Disability Awareness Chair, said: “We put our patients at the heart of all we do and I’m proud that our staff have gone out of their way to embrace this week and learn about the needs of different patients.
“There isn’t a one size fits all approach to patient care. People with learning disabilities often need a more tailored programme of care than others and this is helping us make sure we know how best to deliver specific types of care.
“We also want our staff to look beyond a patient’s disability and, wherever possible, to keep that patient involved in all the decisions made surrounding their care with us.”
Some of the events and activities taking place across the hospital this week include information stands in the main atrium, a drop-in coffee morning, the Learning Disability Team visiting all wards and departments with their mobile information trolley and a study day for staff in the Academy.
The first Compassion in Learning Disability Practice Awards, which recognise staff who have made a significant contribution to helping people with learning disabilities, will also be presented by Chief Nurse, Hilary Walker during the week.
New initiatives to help those with learning disabilities
Learning Disability Awareness Week is a first for the Trust and follows a number of new initiatives designed to make a patient’s visit to hospital easier and stress free.
Important information on topics, such as having a blood test or an X-ray, are now available in new Easy Read leaflets, which have been written and designed in collaboration with the people they are aimed at.
Some departments have also introduced new storybooks, containing pictures of their area and staff, which can be used to help people with autism prepare for their visit.
Wendy Johnson said: “As a Trust, we have a commitment to treat all our patients, regardless of their age, sex, gender, race or disability, with dignity and respect and we hope that this week will enable us to provide the right care for the right patients at every opportunity.”