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RCP launches acute care toolkit for people with learning disabilities

doctor with a patient

The RCP has launched a new acute care toolkit aimed at all staff who work in acute medical units. It provides important and straightforward advice when treating patients with a learning disability who present as acutely unwell.

The RCP believes care provision for people with a learning disability is currently suboptimal and must be addressed.

People with a learning disability experience worse patient safety outcomes and quality of care in hospital. Clinical challenges include delayed presentation, communication, behaviours of distress and diagnostic overshadowing.

Dr John Dean, improvement clinical director at the RCP, who led on the creation of the toolkit said, ‘Approximately 2% of the adult population has a learning disability. We know their care can be compromised when admitted to hospital resulting in significantly worse outcomes and experience. This inequality must be addressed as a priority. The toolkit gives a simple guide to clinical staff on how to give appropriate care in these circumstances, and has the potential to make a big difference.’

The RCP was delighted to work with NHS England and Improvement (NHSE/I) and the Society for Acute Medicine on the development of this toolkit and the input we received from the people with lived experience of learning disabilities was invaluable. This helped the RCP to produce an Easy Read version of the toolkit, which we hope presents advice in a clear, concise and practical way.

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