Living Together in a Fair Way
By The Institute of Health Equity
The Marmot report (easy read version) is about the difference between the way people get healthcare if they have a learning disability and how people get healthcare if they are not disabled. This matters because people with learning disabilities are dying 15-20 years earlier than their non- disabled peers. There are many reasons that this is happening, including being poorer than other people, living in poorer housing and being lonely- which are all causes of depression, stress and other illnesses. This is unacceptable, and things need to be changed for the better. There needs to be properly accessible, good quality housing and the support to find it. There needs to be information available about affordable heating and bills. There are schemes to help with bills, but people don’t know about them. Independent living needs to be properly funded. There needs to be somebody put in charge to make sure things get better -a learning disability tsar.
Support to have real friendships and relationships is important as this can help stop loneliness. Information about clubs and events specially for people with learning disabilities needs to be widely available.
Accessible information about money and financial support also needs to be easy to find.
Many of these deaths could be prevented. There need to be proper health checks and a health plan, which are reviewed regularly depending on the health of the individual. Good quality, accessible information about keeping healthy needs to be easily available. People should be encouraged to join in with some sort of exercise or sports. People need to keep mentally healthy too. LDE sent out a ‘Winter Special’ with lots of information about keeping warm and keeping healthy. There should be community learning disability nurses who are trained to support people in their own community and be a link to other services.
Many people with learning disabilities find the support offered by complementary therapies to be really helpful. This needs to be affordable as many people with learning disabilities don’t have a job and don’t have much money.
People & children with learning disabilities may have other long-term serious health problems, like asthma, which all need the correct care and support.
Good health care and support should be lifelong, which would mean people with learning disabilities could get proper treatment & support and wouldn’t die so soon.
Children with learning disabilities are more likely to have mental health conditions, thought to be a third of these children – this needs to be properly treated, not always with drugs, but talking & practical therapies too. There needs to be people trained specially to deal with children’s mental health. Teenagers need specialist services of their own. 1 in 3 children with learning disabilities get free school meals, but this depends on a family’s circumstances. If problems are treated early, it will save money later on. Inclusive education should be the norm, where children with learning disabilities are educated in mainstream schools.
Communities need to be trained and set up to be completely inclusive. People should live in the community and area that they choose and not be kept in hospitals or institutions (ATUs) because there is nowhere else for them to live.
People with learning disabilities have lots of skills that could be used in the workplace, but they find it hard to get paid work. There needs to be employment fairs for people with learning disabilities. People with learning disabilities should be able to have a real career and receive proper pay for it. There should be help available if a person with learning disabilities wants to set up their own business. They are often on very low pay or benefits and are often caught in the benefits trap. Lots of disabled people are losing their benefits when being reassessed – this causes stress, anxiety and worries and is not good for mental health. People who are unemployed are likely to be poor, suffering from mental health problems. There needs to be more further / adult education classes so that people can keep themselves occupied during the day and gain skills that could be used in the workplace. This will benefit the national and local economy.
People with learning disabilities need help to tackle discrimination as they are more likely to be affected than people with learning disabilities. People from ethnic minorities, of different genders and sexual preferences with learning disabilities, can be doubly discriminated against. Dimensions hate crime training of police officers is helping to make people and police officers aware that the bullying and discrimination of people with learning disabilities is unacceptable and can lead to serious mental health problems. Respond are an organisation who support people with learning disabilities when they have experienced trauma or abuse.
Education of all children needs to tackle hate crime – if they are taught early then there will be fewer problems as they become adults.
Support for people with learning disabilities needs to be properly funded. People with learning disabilities need enough money to live the life they want – a good life. Banks and building societies need to make proper provisions for people with learning disabilities so that they can manage their own money.
People with learning disabilities in prison need proper support to help them understand what happened and why they are in prison and avoid coming back again. An individual approach to support is essential because everyone is different.
There needs to be support for families and friends and those caring for people with learning disabilities as they need help too. People with learning disabilities need to feel part of a family and a community – in whichever way they chose.
It is good to see that the report includes success stories from around the world and makes recommendations about what should happen next. Public and charitable organisations need to take part in research and look at good practice around the world.