Medical appointment support for people with learning disabilities

A health organisation and a charity have teamed up to create some “easy read” resources that have been designed to help reduce the fears and anxieties of people with learning disabilities during appointments.

Thursday, 15th July 2021, 2:08 pm
Updated Thursday, 15th July 2021, 2:09 pm
Sam Gibson, left, and Sarah Barnard, professional lead, learning disabilities acute liaison safeguarding (children and adults) for the trust service.

Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust has worked in partnership with Learning Disability North East to produce a range of health cards.

They contain information about issues such as pain and symptoms, blood pressure, tests and samples, along with weight management and lifestyle advice, in simple text, pictures and colour-coded sections.

The aim of the cards is to help communication with patients with learning disabilities so that symptoms, treatment, tests and other advice can be understood and passed on in an easy-to-understand manner.

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As well as being used by healthcare professionals during appointments, they can help receptionists and others to gain initial information and they have also been given to community teams to help support patients before they attend their appointments.

Sam Gibson, specialist learning disability acute liaison nurse for Northumbria Healthcare’s Safeguarding and Learning Disability Acute Liaison service, said: “This has been an invaluable opportunity to really help those with additional needs understand what will happen when they come for an appointment with us.

“We’re really putting wheels in motion to help relieve the anxieties for some of our most vulnerable visitors – it’s compassionate care at its best.”

The resources are available online at and are currently being distributed across the trust in Northumberland and North Tyneside.

They are fully wipeable for use by multiple patients, while the digital versions can be downloaded onto iPads or tablets.

Julie Redpath, projects manager at Learning Disability North East, said: “As an organisation, we are extremely passionate about reducing health inequalities often experienced by people who have a learning disability.

“It has been great to work in collaboration with Northumbria Healthcare to produce our range of easy read health cards.”